Requirement For and Content of Business Cards

Most cultures with a strong Power Distance orientation use business cards, not just to remember a name and telephone number, but more importantly to identify relative status positions.

In some strong Power Distance cultures, relative status affects language. In most, the relative status affects respect. As a consequence, giving one a business card, respecting the card, and putting the right information on the card is extremely important.

Purpose of Business Card in High Power Distance culture

In cultures with a strong Power Distance orientation, business cards are an extension of the individual and are used to supply information in lieu of oral description

An extention of the individual

Cultures with a strong Power Distance orientation and strong Relational/Personal orientation, tend also to have a strong Ascription (as opposed to Achievement) orientation. This means that the university one attended, especially if it is a prestigious university, is an important element of one's status. Also the degrees one has earned, such as a Phd. or Masters, are important in defining who you are and the level of respect you will be given. For these reasons, in cultures with a strong Power Distance orientation, these things should be part of the information provided by your business card

Providing Information in Lieu of Oral Description

In some cultures with a strong Power Distance orientation, the language actually changes if you are speaking to one of higher or lower status. In most cultures with a strong Power Distance orientation, at least the "tone" used, or the topics covered may differ depending on the relative status of the speaker and the listener. As a result, in such cultures, it can beextremely stressful to speak until one has identified the status of the one with whom you are meeting for the first time. For this reason it is imperitive that your business card clearly state your position, for example, Chief Scientist or Executive VP or CIO. You should not be humble and omit these things from your business card.

Treatment of Business Card

Since the business card is considered as an extention of the individual, and since the information on the card is essential for a properly respectful initial conversation, it is good practice to repeat the status defining information contained on the card when you receive the card. This shows you are being respectful, and that you are acknowledging the status of the person giving you the card. This implies that when you accept the card, you look at it carefully, read it carefully, and then place it either on the table in front of you, or put it in a respectful place, like a card case; NOT in your pocket.

You should expect the same curtesy to be given to your card. If this is not the case, you have good reason to question the interest the party receiving your card has in you.