The Importance of Business Cards in China. Anyone who is planning to do business in China should be aware of the fact that business cards have a much deeper meaning there than in almost any other country.
In China, the business card is considered an extension of yourself as a person, so your business card will go a long way toward making a good first impression.
You must give a business card to every new person to whom you are introduced. Therefore, the first rule is to make sure you have a large supply of proper business cards printed.
The cards should be double-sided, printed in English on one side and Chinese on the other. It’s best if the Chinese side is printed in golden fonts, because gold is considered to be an auspicious color.
Having your business card translated into Chinese can be a challenge. First of all, there are several different types of Chinese character sets, depending on where you are going. Traditional or “classical” characters are preferred in Hong Kong and Taiwan, while simplified Chinese is used in mainland China.
If you’re planning to visit both the People’s Republic of China and either Hong Kong or Taiwan, be sure to mark your boxes of business cards so you don’t use the wrong one.
Translating your business card from English into Chinese is rarely a simple matter of substituting a Chinese word for each English word. Many English words and phrases don’t exist in Chinese, or if translated literally may have a completely different meaning.
Slogans and bylines can be especially difficult to translate. Make sure your translator completely understands your company’s message. Sometimes it can take hours to figure out how to retain the original message in Chinese.
When translating and designing your business cards, also remember that usually the Chinese version will take up more space than the English version. So be sure the Chinese side doesn’t look cluttered.
When you visit China, you should follow the very formal etiquette involved in the exchange of business cards. When offering your business card to someone, hold the card in both hands, with the Chinese side up. When you receive a business card, silently read the card for a few seconds.
Then say the name and title in a respectful way. Try your best to pronounce the name correctly. This will give the person a chance to easily correct you. But don’t write on the card unless the other person tells you to.
If you’re exchanging business cards at the beginning of a meeting, you’ll stand while exchanging cards. As soon as you sit down, arrange the business cards on the table in front of you, following the seating plan. This way you can connect the correct names with each person during the meeting.
But don’t play with the cards during the meeting. After the meeting, it’s best to put the cards in a business card holder. Don’t ever put them in your back pants pocket, because that’s considered very disrespectful.