Home > Contemplations > A Question Of Business Card Etiquette

A Question Of Business Card Etiquette

Remember I discussed about a month back about different business cards  and how once you hand over your business cards there’s no point in self-deprecating because they want to speak to you and don’t really care about your business card and what it looks like?  Well, today I have a question for you kind folks about business card etiquette – as well as my own opinion on the subject (obviously).

This all hinges on what I was told about a year ago by some guy I met at Social Media Day 2010 Toronto. He told me that when you are handed a business card it is bad etiquette to put it in your back pocket. Personally, I used to always put them in my back pocket because every other pocket of mine already had a purpose. Front two were cell phone & gum, backup phone battery, & other miscellany whereas one of my back pockets always had my wallet. Because my other back pocket was completely free I always thought it was a great place to store my received business cards at events. Not so, said this gentleman, because you are putting them near your butt it is a sign of disrespect. Ever since, I have tried to follow this whether or not he was right it sounded like something I didn’t want to risk. This, however brings me to the question.


You’ve been handed a business card at a networking event. Is it acceptable to pull your wallet out and pop it in there? Yes, the wallet will be going back to your back pocket – which is not a sign of respect – but because it is in the wallet does that negate the negative overtone of the back pocket?

My Take:

I think that yes, the card going into your wallet totally does negate the bad etiquette of putting it in your back pocket.

Maybe it is because I still don’t fully agree with the concept of it being bad etiquette to put it in your back pocket. My reason for putting it there is completely rational – it is an empty pocket and one I don’t usually keep things in, unless it is a to-do list in which case I will probably be even more likely to see the business cards and contact the people later. But then again, that’s just me I suppose.

Either way, I think putting it in my wallet is a completely reasonable place to put the obtained business card and where I keep my wallet is irrelevant to the etiquette of the whole situation.

What do you folks think? Am I right? Wrong? Is the whole concept of it being bad etiquette to put a received business card in your back pocket complete garbage?

One final question – is there a big book or website of etiquette where I can look this kind of thing up? I am going to have to look into this myself but if you know of one, please do let me know!

Photo Source & Credit

“Businessman holding blank card” (first image in post) came via http://office.microsoft.com/direct link here

“Businessman handing card” (second image in post) came via http://office.microsoft.com/direct link here

  1. September 24, 2011 at 12:34 am

    If you’re sitting on it, you’re sitting on it, and putting it inside some cowhide’s not going to help 🙂 Best if you have a nice business card case that you can put into an inside breast pocket in a jacket: putting it into a shirt pocket would be preferable to a back pocket on your trousers.

    If you’re going somewhere where you’re expecting to trade business cards, it’s probably a good idea to dress for it, and be able to carry the cards in a way that will be viewed as respectful by all cultures.

    • September 24, 2011 at 3:47 am

      A very good point. Be a boy/girl scout and always be prepared.

      Maybe an even better move would be to take a picture of the card with your phone & tell them you are eco-friendly and don’t want to take the card but now have all the info in a picture? Being green is in right? 😉

  2. danah
    September 24, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    I never really thought much about this but I think putting it in your wallet is good since the card won’t get wrecked and that seems respectful to me.

    I think a breast pocket is probably best though with a little card holder to put them in.

    • September 25, 2011 at 8:15 pm

      Yes, I agree Danah, breast pocket is best but when your shirt lacks a pocket there and you’re not wearing a jacket your options are limited. From what Pat aka @digiteyes on Twitter has told me (and commented here) in other cultures even putting it in your wallet isn’t sufficient.

      Basically, it’s always good to be prepared!

  1. September 24, 2011 at 11:45 am

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