“Dear Mr. Woodley” is the column of Estate Managers Coalition resident butler, Crispin Woodley, who will answer your questions about all things “butler-esque.”
From proper introductions to thieving guests – to handling undermining children – to how to let Madam know that her outfit is simply inappropriate, Mr. Woodley advises with the knowledge and flare of European etiquette and protocol which only a fine butler understands.
Dear Mr. Woodley,
I attended a birthday party the other night and was introduced to a friend of the hosts. Immediately the host’s friend asked me what line of work I was in and I told him that I owned a concierge company catering to the personal service industry. He quickly rummaged around in his front pants pocket and pulled out a crumpled business card, handing it to me single-handedly, face down. This struck me as very odd and I wanted to ask your advice on the proper handling of business cards.
Deirdre Fisk, Rhapsody Concierge Services
Dear Ms. Fisk:
The entire episode you described is very troubling. First, it is incredibly rude to ask someone you have just met what he or she does for a living, and handing out a business card at a social function is taboo. It implies pretense and shows oneself to have a very shallow personality. There are so many topics to discuss: travel, where you live and why you love it, how you both know the host or hostess, etc. (warning: stay away from politics, religion, money and children – really – don’t talk about your kids).
Can you ask someone what line of work they are in later in the conversation? Yes, if you have made a definite connection with the person and are genuinely interested. If you both find it beneficial to pursue a business relationship, just exchange phone numbers with a promise to get in touch soon and then go about mingling with the other guests. But please, do not hand out a business card at a social function!
Second, the actual handing and receiving of the business card in question was in poor taste. A business card – to the owner – should be very sacred and treated as such. Always keep your business cards in a tasteful case and not thrown haphazardly in a pocket or purse. Take good care of them – after all – they represent you. When presenting someone your business card, do so with two hands! Position the proper side of the card facing your new acquaintance, so that they are able to read it without flipping it this way and that. They should take the card in both of their hands and look at it, turning it over to see the back as well. Then a polite comment about the business card is suggested, such as: “I like your choice of logo, how did you choose it?” Or, “I see you are a member of the Estate Manager’s Coalition – I am as well!” After this, please do not place their card in your pocket or purse, rather put it in the same case where you keep your business cards or a separate case meant just for your contacts.
When you get home you may import your confrères information into your contacts by hand – or scan it with your Smartphone and store in an editable database that may also be transferred to your contacts – retaining the image of the card – very easy! Here is an article on seven tested business card apps.