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Business Card Etiquette

by Cindy Grosso and Neil Baum

In this day of computers and advanced technology, many of us forget the value of one of the oldest and simplest methods of communication that remains very effective, the business card. Of course we have fax machines, e-mail, cell phones and other high-tech methods of communication, but the 2-inch-by-4-inch piece of high-stock paper we call a business card is still a means of connecting with your doctors. It's a communication tool that we often take for granted, but if used properly, it can be an additional tool to enhance your relationship with your doctor.

Why are business cards important?

After the visual impression that you make on the doctor, and the content of your presentation, your business card is probably the most important thing your doctor will remember you by. It is one of the first impressions you make on your doctor and his or her staff � an important thing to consider when you don't often have an opportunity to make a second first impression. Also, a business card is one of the ways that your doctor can follow up with you and your company.

The basic ingredients of an effective business card include your name, address, phone number, company address and phone number, company logo, fax number, Web site address and e-mail address. If you really want to endear yourself to your doctors, provide your home number by hand-writing it on the card, as this may give the impression that they are special and not all doctors get your personal numbers.

The importance of design
Buy the most expensive card you can afford and have it professionally done. Use good-quality stock in white or cream, as it is easier to read and looks more professional. The printing should be engraved or thermographed.

We understand that most pharmaceutical companies have a format and a design that you are to use for your business card. However, some companies may allow you some latitude and creativity in the design of your card. An effective business card should be easy to read and contain an adequate amount of white space. Your name and phone number should stand out, appear in bold print and be easy to locate on the card. A card that is too cluttered becomes difficult to read and can make it hard for the doctor to find the pertinent information. We suggest that you think of your business card as a highway billboard. You should be able to get the message or find the relevant information on the card in seconds, as if you were driving past the sign on a highway.

Sharing your card with a doctor
The first and most important rule is that your business card should be like American Express � never leave home without it. You should never forget to carry your business cards wherever you go or travel. Your cards should be kept in a nice, attractive case in an easy-to-locate place in your briefcase or in the designated pocket of your suit or shirt. You should never have to fumble around to locate this important communication tool.

Upon entering the doctor's office, hand the card to the receptionist so that you may be properly introduced to the doctor or to the appropriate person you wish to see in the office. If this is the first interaction with a physician, we recommend offering the business card to the doctor at the beginning of the call. Offer the card to the doctor face up and in a direction that the physician can see and read your name and the name of your company.

Other applications of the business card
You can enclose your business card with additional information you send the physician, such as product information, reprints, or a report from a national or international meeting. The business card can be included in any correspondence with the office or the practice. You can use your business card when you send a (medically relevant) gift to the doctor or one of his or her staff. In this instance, we suggest you cross out your printed name and write your first name on the card. Finally, you can use the back of your business card for a brief note to the physician that you leave with his or her receptionist if you are unable to meet with the doctor.

The dos and don'ts of business cards
Never hand out a card that is tattered, smudged or bent, or that contains written notes or reminders. This is in poor taste and bad manners. We suggest that you avoid writing on the card in the presence of the doctor. If you want to make notes about the meeting or the doctor for future reference, do so only after you leave.

Ask for the physician's business card at the end of your visit. When you receive the card, look at it for a few seconds. It is a nice gesture to place the card in your breast pocket, which is considered a place of honor. Otherwise, place it in your jacket pocket, briefcase or business card place. If you take a business card from the desk holder in the reception area, you can take one or two cards upon arrival or when you leave the office.

Don't underestimate the importance of this small piece of paper. It truly is the handshake you leave behind. PR

Dr. Neil Baum is a physician in New Orleans, LA, and a frequent speaker and consultant to the pharmaceutical industry. He can be reached at or Cindy Grosso is a protocol and etiquette expert. She is a professional speaker who trains in areas of medical office protocol. She can be reached at

Posted by Originally published in the December 2001 pharmreponline. Copyright 1999-2001 Medec Dental Communications.

Source: Article Published on the

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