12 luglio 2022
by Guendalina Dainelli

Introducing myself


They come in all colors, "handmade", made with recycled Amalfi paper or parchments, manuscripts, with bas-reliefs or sealing wax, with an ancient and aristocratic flavor. In this case, they must be carefully placed on the desk in elegant caskets from which to pinch someone with nonchalance at the end of the meetings.They can be ecological, made of very thin sheets of metal or bamboo with laser engraved name and details.  Increasingly, they are digital, with a QR code that enables you to read on your mobile all the information necessary to support the business: from personal details to payment links, social media or Google location.

The good old business card remains one of the cheapest tools to promote Italian products around the world

When it comes to business cards, between detractors and admirers, between lovers and haters, the business world and business etiquette experts are divided. And whilst a recent article in Forbes offers expert advice on how to make your business card more appealing than the others scattered over a meeting table, we might also remember that, as far back as 1922, the American Emily Post, doyenne of modern etiquette, wrote a short piece on the correct size, paper weight and printing specifications.

What is certain is that the good old business card remains one of the cheapest tools to promote Italian products around the world. Provided, however, that it does not turn into an unforgivable own goal. Knowing the uses and customs of the country in which you are moving therefore appears crucial, as Ginevra Niccolini Serragli explains. Having worked and lived in Hong Kong, she is now a real estate agent in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and has vast experience of business cards from all over the world.

In Japan, for example, the exchange of business cards is a veritable ceremony that is known as Meishi. For those looking to the Far East with a guarantee of success, it is good to know that the distribution of business cards follows a strict protocol, which proceeds in a rigid hierarchical order, from the highest to the lowest in the organizational chart. Alternatively, the business card must be offered and received with a slight bow, held with both hands and strictly held out in the direction of the recipient. It is essential to show interest and attention to the card. Whilst it is acceptable to clarify the correct pronunciation of the name, the idea of writing something on it by hand or, worse still, hastily putting it back in your pocket instead generates a very unpleasant effect. Another faux pas is to take it with your left hand only, considered unclean in various cultures.

Another faux pas is to take it with your left hand only, considered unclean in various cultures

Even in the Middle East and especially in the Gulf, despite the acceleration of Web 3.0 and Meta Verso, the business card is still a very popular tool. A meeting table in the Arab world must always be set up with one careful eye on marketing. Including notebooks, pens, personalized gadgets with company logos creates the idea of a certain prosperity, appreciated in countries in which the measure does not always have the same value as in the West. And an adequate arsenal of business cards arranged in advance on the table is a sign of professionalism and familiarity with the business world.

No limits, therefore, to gold trim (you can even go all out with pure gold) and royal frills in graphics on a dark background, which instead is a bad omen in the Far East. And if you really want to make your mark, the card must be printed in Arabic on one of the two sides. Finally, consider the opportunity of a gift, which in the Arab world does not have to be accepted by the recipient (while it ennobles the offeror). Here, the fascination for all things ‘Made in Italy’ is truly compelling and any local product, food or accessory, has the reputation of being beautiful or good, and certainly well made. And at this point, good luck! God willing. Or inshallah, as they say around here.

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