The Modern Girl's Guide to Business Card Etiquette

::makes it rain professionally::

Business Card
(Image credit: Getty, design by Kevin Peralta)

Order business cards for the job you want

Just think: If Patrick Bateman had followed this rule, it could have prevented the needless murders of one dog and at least two men. Don't obsess over hand-chiseled dies and medium gothic—unless you can afford it (lucky you)—but do think of your cards as a reflection of your style and professionalism. That means both clarity (name, company, contact info clearly displayed) and quality (the best materials and design you afford). You want to be the 💎 to everybody else's 💩, don't you? Presentation helps too, so we'll cover that next.

And protect them with your life

"It'll happen when you least expect it" isn't just something your coupled-up friends say when they don't want you to lose hope about not dying with only your museum-quality Marni collection for company. Always be prepared with a few cards, because 1) you never know who could be behind you in line for the bathroom and 2) networking happens everywhere these days. Beyond that, clean, unbent cards suggest that you're equally careful in your professional life, so you don't want to just chuck them in with your Chase Sapphire.

Business Card Holders

(Image credit: ourtesy of the designer, design by Dana Tepper)

1. Cuyana, $65, cuyana.com2. Anya Hindmarch, $225, net-a-porter.com3. Gucci, $295, net-a-porter.com4. Sophie Hulme, $185, net-a-porter.com5. Adriana Castro, $155, adrianacastroonline.com6. Welcome Companions, $98, ofakind.com7. Alexander McQueen, $77,

But where do you put all the cards you're going to *collect?* Vicki Salemi, career expert for Monster, has a simple trick for keeping yours and theirs separate: Buy two holders in different colors, and never frantically dump the contents of your bag on the ground as the other person awkwardly stands there again.

Don't make it weird

Recap: You're only as good as your card and how you handle it, so don't mess this up, okay? Handing them out to every Tom, Dick, and Harry and Niall and Louis is a no. Catching them all like you're a Pokémon trainer is a no. Handing them out indiscreetly is a no. Handing them out during a social situation is a hell nah (wait until after). Essentially, you want to make the giver feel important and nobody to feel bad about not being included in your Business Dealings.

When you reach a point near the natural conclusion of an interaction with a new acquaintance, be cool and say "Let me give you my card."* Or, at the beginning of a more formal meeting, offer your card as you introduce yourself, then place everyone else's in front of you for name remembrance purposes. In any situation, treat the card like you've just received a sterling silver Hermès melon baller: Hold it with both hands (#respect), read it (or just pretend), and if it's sincere, compliment your new contact on his choice of vellum.

*Approach with caution if dealing with a literal HBIC. According to Emily Post, "if a senior person wants your card, she will ask for it, or she will give you her card if she wants you to have it." I say life is about learning to handle rejection, so go for it if you think it'll be worth your while.

"Let's get a drink!"

You played all your cards right (har har), so it's now onto The Follow-Up, a comedy of errors in which email tag gets top billing. Try, though! Salemi says your message, sent a week or so after the initial conversation, should include three elements: that you enjoyed meeting her; a memorable thing that came up during your discussion, like how you both enjoy Prancercise; and that you'd like to continue the conversation over lunch or coffee or Skype if she's on a six-month Prancercise retreat with Joanna Rohrback. Then share your availability and set that sh...indig up. You'll be glad you did.

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Chelsea Peng
Assistant Editor

Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.