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Phnom Penh Aside: The culture of the business card

PITY the man or woman without one in this town, because some days your business card is the clearest sign that you exist.

Probably developed from the eighteenth century "calling card", a business card is today a necessity for anyone whose work brings them into contact with people they haven't met.

Name cards carry much more than merely a name. The design layout and quality of the card convey more than mere information.

Unless you are a designer or creative type, then you should avoid gimmicks such as photographs, rounded corners or small flaps. However, in Asia an exception might be made for a headshot photo of yourself.

Bright colours and supernova sunbursts are acceptable if you run a wild and crazy bar, but keep in mind that a lawyer - the benchmark of business card respectability - shouldn't use them.

Providing the correct information on your card is essential.

If you're not going to put an address on your card, then you should reconsider making the card at all and carry on scribbling your number on Post-It notes and cigarette packets.

Remember that an email address is not a suitable replacement for a street address, and a website is not a place; it's merely a bunch of pictures and text on a screen.

Putting a website on your card only shows that you have a website. It tells the world that you are sophisticated enough to use a commonplace marketing tool. It doesn't tell the world much about where to find you when they need you.

THE MOMENT YOU EXCHANGE CARDS IS A

FORMAL ONE, SO RECOGNISE IT AS SUCH.

What to do with the back of the card can also be a tricky question.

Some use the space as a piece of marketing that either highlights the list of services provided or illuminates commercial desperation.

The other option is to have all the information on the front printed in another script, Khmer.

It might be cute to have your name printed in another language, but frankly, what is the point?

In Thailand where there is reluctance to learn English, it might be appropriate, but in Cambodia - where everyone in the business community speaks English - it's irrelevant.

The most easily overlooked but, perhaps, the most important part of producing a business card is the actual card itself.

In Phnom Penh, bonded card stock is hard to find, so it is wise to opt for lamination.

Gloss lamination will keep the colours truer to the original but will be shiny and give the message either that you're pretty unsophisticated or that you expect your card will be stored underwater at some point in its life.

When meeting someone and exchanging cards, do not pass the card as if it were nothing. Always try to give a card the correct way up so it can be read immediately.

The moment you exchange  cards is a formal one, so recognise it as such.

If you are standing, continue to hold it and don't just stuff it into a pocket - and never put it into the back pocket of your trousers as a thing to be sat upon.

Recognition of business-card etiquette reflects that a business card is not just a way of exchanging contact information; it is an opportunity to build a relationship. 

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