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The 9 step process to exchange business cards #Events

Today we’re hosting Mark Perl on the third day of his blog tour. Mark is the expert when it comes to organising and hosting events, he’s also the author of two new books; The Impeccable Host and The Impeccable Planner.  Both of which I plan to review. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend some of Mark’s events and they are superb, he walks the walk, which is something I love in business experts.

Usually offered at the beginning or at the end of a business meeting, or during the introduction to a new contact, the practice of exchanging business cards is an internationally recognised method of sharing contact details between business people.

I have always found it curious that in the UK and North America, two globally influential centres of trade and commerce, despite the hilarious intensity of competition in the business card scene in Mary Harron’s disturbing 2000 film American Psycho, there is little obvious protocol surrounding the actual exchange of business cards. From what I have commonly seen, business cards seem to be passed to people in a perfunctory manner, with little significance. On many occasions, I have seen people receive business cards and place them straight into their pocket, without paying any attention to them at all. I have always found this to be odd. In many countries, this would be seen as disrespectful.

 If you follow these tips, wherever you find yourself in the western world, you are unlikely to fall foul of any perceived misconduct. In fact, your opposite will generally feel somehow more connected to you, and will remember you with a more positive emotion.

When Event Hosts receive a business card, they should:

  • Pause to look at the card for several seconds
  • Look at both sides. Today, many people, myself included, print on the reverse side, too.
  • Find something on the card about which they can make a positive comment. Refer to the corporate colours, the design, the layout, the logo, the location of the offices, the spelling of their name, perhaps the range of products you see printed there. Essentially, comment on anything you can latch on to that shows you are genuinely interested and demonstrates that you have offered their card a respectful amount of attention

When your Host has Spotted the Opportunity, or found their Aha Moment, they should:

  •  Ask the guest if it is ok to write on their card (this is being polite to them, and shows you are serious about following up)
  • agree a day (or days) when the Host will call the guest to follow up, to continue the discussion and see how you may be able to help (this is subtle, and is tantamount to setting up a mutually agreed-upon appointment)
  • agree whether the morning or the afternoon is the best time to call (this is courteous and indicates you are on their agenda, not your own. It also ensures Hosts call at a time of day which holds less pressure for, and is therefore more convenient for, your guest and thus helps to make the follow-up call successful)
  • clarify the telephone number via which the guest would prefer to be contacted (whilst not the only indicator, choice of switchboard, direct line or mobile phone can signify how serious your guest is about their wish for the Host to contact them)
  • clearly write all this information down on the back of the guest’s card (so the guest perceives the Hosts as being organised and so that they will be expecting the call, and also so that the Host has a viable record of the essentials of the conversation and the agreed date and time of day for the follow-up, to refer back to)
  • the Host should then verbally summarise what has been agreed, to the guest, for clarification. The Host must then promise the guest that they will call, as per this agreement (this binds both parties: The Host to make the call, as promised, and the guest to receive it as agreed)


Mark Perl – Author, speaker, trainer and expert in the skills of Planning and Hosting events professionally


Please check out the following posts on Mark’s blog tour:

Corporate Hospitality – The ultimate heart-centred business

10 powerful questions to ask at events

What do Impeccable Hosts look for on a site visit?

10 steps to planning great events



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