What you need to know about exchanging business cards in China

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

If you are new to doing business in China you may wonder why it's important to know how to exchange business cards properly. In Australia, business cards are exchanged casually. In China, the exchange of business cards is a formal matter. As it's one of the first things you'll do when you meet a prospective business partner, you'll want to do it well so that you create a good first impression.

The first difference that you'll notice between the way business cards are exchanged in China is that they are given and received with two hands. This is important because business cards, known as name cards in China, are considered valuable. When giving or receiving something of value, the Chinese use both hands.

Exchange business cards

When introduced to someone in China, the accepted form of greeting is a handshake, after which business cards are exchanged. Use both hands to present your card and make sure that the name side is up so that the person receiving it can read your name. If you have your business card translated into Chinese on one side and English on the other, present the card with the Chinese side up, even if the person you are giving it to speaks English.

When you receive a business card, don't put it away immediately. Read the card, paying attention to the name and title of the person who gave it to you. If you sit down at a table after receiving the card, place the card on the table as a sign of respect. It will also help you to remember their name. If you put the card away, do that carefully. Don't put it in your back pocket or casually slip it into your handbag. Do not write on their card in front of them as this is considered rude.

If you are handing business cards to a group of people, it is polite to start with the most senior person present. If you are not sure who that is, start with the oldest person. Personally present your cards to everyone, even if there are several people there. Do not leave them on the table for people to help themselves later. The good impression you make will be worth the time it takes.

When you are in China you will find that you are expected to hand out your business card to everyone you meet. Make sure that you have a good supply of clean business cards with you.

You may find that people bow a little with their head when they meet you and exchange cards. If you bow in return, bow from your head and not from your middle.

The formality of the name card exchange will feel strange at first. You may want to practise giving and receiving cards with two hands as well as carefully reading them and putting them away before you go to China.

In your travels you may notice that some Chinese business people adopt a Western approach to exchanging business cards. While it's up to you whether you also adopt the Western approach in these situations, you will find that the Chinese appreciate the courtesy of a formal exchange of business cards. In fact, they may request their card back from you so that they can return your courtesy.

Learn more

You can learn more about doing business in China from Graham through a Do It Yourself Import Assistance package from QPS Importers. Graham has been importing quality goods from China since 2009. He enjoys passing his knowledge on to other people who would like to import from China.

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Originally published on 31 December 2013, this article was updated and republished on 28 February, 2017.


Author: Kathy Creaner

Kathy loves to talk about gardening, program and project management, doing business in China, social media marketing and customer service.

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