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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Can I have your business card please?

Do you used to collect foreign coins or stamps when you were younger? Remember the joy and pride you used to get while going through your stamp albums or while showing it to your mates? Old habits die hard, or they show up later in life in different forms I guess. When we graduate to become bigger boys from our boyhood (or girlhood) and enter into the corporate arena, have you ever got into the 'hobby' of collecting business cards? From my work experience I have realised that we like exchanging business cards in pretty much every business situations in Bangladesh. Its perhaps a normal business ritual, but I must admit that the quality of business cards produced in Bangladesh is really good. I 'collected' some really well laid-out, well-designed business cards made of quality paper of some quality people to keep as trophies in my business card holders. Especially there were those cards with double fold, triple fold flaps filled with tiny logos of various entities the person was involved in (in different glorious and important roles you know) and even the ones with the person's photo too! The more designations, educational qualifications you have the more important you are right?

However, it is pretty much like the culture of giving salaam first. They say whoever gives salaam first is supposed to be more modest. Its not the same I guess while exchanging business cards in Bangladesh. Those who think they are heavyweights in their business sectors prefer to be asked first for their business cards, then they 'very reluctantly but casually' hand over their glorified business card to the 'seeker'. On the other hand, if you hand out your business card first, it signals pro-active interest in building relationship, however risking the status quo to some extent.

I met the Program Manager of a renowned Bangladesh based NGO, here in London, couple of weeks ago. When I say I 'met' him, it does not mean we talked or anything, but while giving introductions, we knew who we were. During one point of the event, I noticed that the gentleman was very actively in the mission of collecting business cards from people around. I also realised that he was however choosy in selecting his targets. He generally avoided those who more or less looked like him (which included me ofcourse) and preferred to go after fairer executives, participants. Good for him, but it was really interesting to witness his mission of collecting business cards to fill up his album perhaps.

From my interactions with non Bangladeshi business personalities, I have realised that their business cards are not of the best quality. Although their business acumen, experience, expertise speak louder than their low quality, poor design, simple business cards, I thought our printers in Nilkhet do a better job in giving a good impression of self through the business cards. I don't even see these people mentioning their educational degrees, institutions etc. in their business cards, even though they might be graduates from top-notch institutions. Gives you a hint what they focus on...not on the ornamental designations or degrees, but on the experience of the person itself.
I guess there is nothing wrong or right regarding this, its how things are with business cards in Bangladesh.


Sakib Khan said...

It's interesting that you talked about business cards. I was just watching this clip in YouTube today where the guy demonstrating how you can give a quick one minute presentation using your business card and expand your network.

And yes, he thinks it's good to include your photo too!

Shehzaad said...

@Sakib, I see merit in your argument. Especially if our online profiles in Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter etc. could have our photos, then why not the business cards?

I am sure its just a matter of picking up the culture and following it.