Business Cards – More than a Small Piece of Paper

Business cards can say a lot about not only your business, but also your personality. Are you a plain black and white business card user or are you full of color and pizzazz? Are you a standard rectangular shaped card or are you out of the box with square and other odd shapes. There are so many ways that you can design your business card to give that last first impression, but have you ever stopped to think about where business cards originated from? Or how business cards are received in each culture? Well your curiosity ends here.

Business Cards through the Years

Business cards have been around since 15th Century China. Before the name “Business” cards, they were known as a “Visiting” card or a “Calling” card. In the 17th century these cards were introduced into Europe during the French reign of Louis XIV (also known as the Sun King).  More geared towards a social aspect, these visiting or calling cards came with strict etiquette rules, for example, when making a call, one must leave their card with the servant; they will only be allowed to see the hostess after she has examined the card in order to be presented to your desired party. From France it spread to England but with a different purpose. Known as Trade cards, they were used to indicate where businesses were located since England didn’t have street numbers during that time.

Around 1890, the United States caught on to the tradition, increasing its popularity. From the 19th century onward, the social aspect of these cards diminished and the term “Business” card was formed due to the constant need to exchange contact information. Traditional Business Cards were designed on plain heavy paper with utilitarian lettering. It detailed the name of the card holder, his title, the affiliated company with relevant contact information. Now with the widespread use of business cards, logos are usually on the business card and a description of the business. Some business cards are even full of color and present a personal touch of the individual. In this day and age, it is very important to have a business card even if you deal with telecommunications and technology and work in the digital world or you do not possess a job as these cards can connect you to a wide network. In addition, in this technology savvy era, it shouldn’t be as difficult to obtain business cards as there are many free business cards offers which provide high quality products and can be fully customizable to display that personal touch.

Business Card Etiquette

Now that you have those business cards to give to potential employers, partners, and vendors, it is good to know the different etiquettes when presenting business cards. In Asia for example, it is disrespectful to present your card with your left hand or immediately put the card away upon receiving it. Internationally, you should never use a business card to take notes.  In addition, cards should be in pristine condition, you would want to present your card in the manner with which you yourself would appear for important business meetings.

From the 15th century to now, these little cards have lasted through time and still make an impact in our society. Whether you are a high power executive, or a college student looking for a job, it is always good to have business cards handy to present yourself and give the person you’ve introduced yourself to not only a lasting impression but the opportunity to contact you.

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