5 Things Not to Say About Your Business Cards at TBEX

Today’s guest post is by TBEX speaker Andy Hayes, who has some tips for those attending any of our networking sessions.


When I attended my first “business networking” event, a local government-sponsored organization in Scotland about 5 years ago, I witnessed a lot of tomfoolery. When you put 25 newly minted business owners in a room, you’re bound to feel like you’re in a live action comedy skit.

Unfortunately, to this day I attend networking groups and “speed dating” events, only to find that people have not learned. Before you attend this year’s TBEX networking sessions, take a minute and think about the kind of impression you want to leave on your PR contacts as well as travel blogging colleagues, both new and old.

One thing that causes me to chuck more often than not is the topic of business cards. The following are 5 real, genuine incidents I’ve experienced in recent memory – most of them travel bloggers. No names are shamed, but take my advice and skip these snafus.

Yes, this really is my business card.

1. “Here, take one. I’m trying to get rid of them.

A travel blogger mentioned this to me at Blogworld in 2010, before mentioning it to the next four people I was standing next to. If she was “trying to get of them” so desperately, then remind me again why I would want one?

Your goal at TBEX is not to give out a certain number of cards. Your goal is to make connections and build relationships. Quality, not quantity folks.

2. “Sorry I just printed these last night.”

This was one of those awkward moments where I was sharing a networking appointment at an event with another travel journalist. It was a little embarrassing to see their lack of professionalism, which started with the whole business card thing, but carried through the entire appointment.

Forgot your cards? Ran out and had to buy extra? No problem. Don’t highlight it. Most people won’t notice.

Speaking of running out….

3. “Sorry, I don’t have a card.”

This happens to the best of us. You forget your cards, or you run out, or they are still in your luggage which has taken a detour to Keystone via Bogota. All you need to do is to grab a notebook and write up a few scraps of paper with your name/twitter handle/email/phone. Then you’ve transformed that into a “Sorry I’ve ran out of my cards, but here’s my information so we can stay in touch.”

It’s not the most professional substitute, but it shows potential connections that you mean business and won’t let a small glitch get in the way.

4. “______________________________”

I can’t tell you how many networking events I’ve been to where someone I never spoke to, who wasn’t a speaker or a sponsor, just handed me a card and walked off without saying anything. It’s weird, right?

At events like SXSW, I see people spraying their business cards everywhere. It’s such a waste, you might as well drop them in the recycling bin yourself.

I’m sure if you hand out enough cards to strangers, someone will call with some paying work. That is an awfully expensive way to go about finding work, though.

5. “Before we talk, can I see your business card?”

Yup, this happened last year at Blogworld in LA. It made me feel really icky, as if the quality of my entire being was going to be judged solely by my card alone. I might point out that at this point, just post-handshake, the travel blogger didn’t even know if I was a PR person or a blogger or a sponsor or random-person-from-street. Slightly aggressive move, right?

Maybe they were nervous. Or maybe they were a jerk. I’ll never know; I didn’t hear back from them afterwards, so I guess my card wasn’t good enough.

Over to you: what’s the weirdest/worst thing you’ve seen someone do with their business cards?

Andy Hayes is a published travel author, entrepreneur, and busy IT consultant. He blogs about Edinburgh, Scotland and value luxury travel. Connect with him before TBEX on his personal site, andyhayes.com or via Twitter, @andrewghayes.


  1. My favorite one that i hear a lot – “Sorry, this isn’t my business card. I didn’t have time to get some made.”

  2. Really great advice. I hate number 4. I immediately throw away the business card.

  3. Awesome tips mate! Funny how all of these advices are basically scoops of common sense – you’d expect them when you’re in the shoes of the card recipient.

    What I’d add: it’s always the interaction you have with someone that’s going to leave an impression, and the cards themselves only serve as a reminder of the interaction – definitely not the other way round!

    • *nodding approvingly* Some of those experiences I look back and just have to laugh, they seem so over-the-top. But yes, there are plenty of ways to leave an impression!

  4. I was on a press trip once and someone would always give everyone a couple copies of their business card to hand out to others. I kinda get why she did it but I thought it weird nonetheless. Like I’m really going to network for you- am I the only one that thinks this is weird?

    • Nope. That is weird. I have given people copies of my card before for a specific purpose – like I knew they were going to meet someone at an event I couldn’t go to, for example. But just to give you cards “just in case” seems a bit too much.

  5. Also hate #4.

    I was at a photography conference and a guy asked me for my business card. When I gave it to him he said that it was the highlight of the conference for him (in a swarmy, flirtatious tone). Ick. A little flirtation is fine, but it’s a business card – for networking and connecting, not for your next fling.

  6. My problem is forgetting to hand them out after chatting with someone for awhile. 🙂 Guilty of #3, so I’d better start carrying them around more often.

  7. All I can say is…WOW. Just wow! I’m happy to say that I know better than to do any of those things…though I might get so caught up in conversation that I have to run after you after our introduction with a “I almost forgot to give you my card, let’s keep in touch!”

  8. Number two kind of happened to me, except I didn’t bring it up in conversation.

  9. Two tech that is better than a business card incidents. 1) a simple “this QR Code” doesn’t work, and the person wrote the phone # on the card, and 2) I’m marketing a new app. We can “gibberish the gibberish” and just sync to information right into your phone. After 10 mins I left her with my phone to try to make it work while I spoke to someone else. When I came back she may or may not have been successful. I wasn’t sure how to find the info. I gave her my business card. I noticed that she followed me on Twitter.

    I am tech savvy, and I dream of the day I get business contact info that includes a photo into my phone with no typing on my part, but technology that doesn’t work is worse than nothing at all.

  10. I am currently finalizing my very first business cards and I’m excited to pass them out, without making any of these mistakes! Thanks for the tips!

  11. I completely agree! I hate people handing me their business card before I even know what it is they do. I also have learned to not put too many things on your business card. The one I have now has my logo, my email and my website.. From there you can find everything else you might ever want to know about me. 🙂

  12. It’s interesting to read this after living in Asia for 3 years where it is natural (and expected) at events that the exchange of business cards is done with the initial greeting. Name cards are everything in certain parts so some press events (and food/wine events) I have done, you better have cards in hand immediately. It’s a little awkward though when you are both holding the cards out, since you hand them facing out with both hands – it’s like playing chicken to see who will cave and take one hand on their card first. 😉

    I do agree with the points Andy made here. We were almost guilty of #3 at TBEX last year — sadly, the cards we ordered got delayed and were not going to make it to Taiwan in time to pick up so we had them express shipped to my parents in the US who then overnighted them to the hotel in Vancouver which ended up being the most expensive business cards I’ve ever had after adding in two expedited fees and Canadian duties. Yes, we paid Canadian duties on our business cards! So, I don’t do #1 and hand mine out to everyone – they are like $5 a piece! LOL

  13. While I hope I wouldn’t do anything like this – GREAT ARTICLE. Especially for newbie PR networking peeps like me. I think I died at that SXSW. 😛

  14. Great tips! I’ve been very apologetic when handing out my recent batch of business cards. They’re beautiful, perhaps too beautiful, and printed on the most luxurious card stock possible. But instead of owning that, I make apologies for how thick they are, which limits how many I can carry.

    But, you’re right. It’s about quality, not quantity.

  15. Great tips, I haven’t considered that there are things not to say, glad none of these were going to be my opening line but it helps to be prepared before I’m put on the spot and possible stumble over my words! Thanks

  16. Thanks for the pointers.

    I have matchbooks from restaurants all over the world and on each one I have written a short sentence about why I loved the place. Same goes for the business cards I receive at networking events, I write my favorite quote from the conversation on the back of the card to serve as a reminder of the connection. If there is no quote I usually end up throwing the card away. For me, it is not so much the card that makes the impression, but the conversation.

  17. Fantastic advice! I wish you would have offered alternative ways to approach handing out business cards, however. But, at least, I know now what NOT to do.

  18. your right!
    The business card is a necessity for every business. It was good advice.
    But Business Cards Printing is also important.

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