Gotta Catch ‘Em All: Business Cards in Asia

Asia seems to be all about collectible card games (CCG). Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, Shadowverse, and Business Cards. All of these have been a craze.

Why are business cards so important in Asia? I’m not really sure. I’m not really sure anyone truly knows the correct answer. People have a ton of assumptions and hypotheses, but no one truly knows the answer. I think its just a cultural thing thats been around for so long that people forget why its so important.

Since it is important, there are certain rules that you need to follow if you want to successfully do business here. These rules can be complex, but, if you think about your business card as a Pokemon card, its actually pretty easy to remember.

Preparing Your Pokemon Business Cards to Trade with Other Players (in the Industry)

When you want to trade cards, make sure you bring the right cards to the game. Some players prefer to play with English cards, while others prefer to play with the local language. The best way to solve this is to bring a card that is printed in English on one side, and the local language on the other. That way, you can play with everyone you meet!

When in doubt, do as you would your Pokemon cards. The first thing I bought for my Pokemon cards after I got my first foil card was a card case. The same applies to your business cards. Only, in the business world, everyone’s card is a foil Charizard, so value their cards and your cards as so.

I bought a terrible cheap binder for my Pokemon cards at first, but then I saw my friend’s case. It was fancy, and it made me feel inferior. So I went and bought a better case for my Pokemon cards. The same applies for your business cards. Get a case that represents the professionalism you bring to the world, often a leather case, possibly embroidered with your name so that bastard Stephen down the street doesn’t claim that its his and steals all your cards.

Now that you look like you know what you’re doing, its time to go to some trading card events to fill our deck with powerful cards to use in upcoming situations.

The Trading Ritual

For the trading ritual, again refer to the rule of Pokemon. Do not trade stained, torn, bent, curled, or dog eared cards. Its kind of a dick move when the other person is presenting you with a pristine Articuno and you hand them a bent Zapdos. Sure, you’re handing them a great card, but at the same time, that card is a representation of you. Give them your best representation.

When trading your card, present it to the player with their preferred language side facing them. That way they can read and marvel at how amazing the card is, which they are culturally required to do, even if you’re not the best card in their deck.

“Oh cool. An English Teacher. You must be very qualified! I am so happy to add your card to my deck.”

When you present your card to the player, present it to them with two hands. Some people say this is a sign of respect, but I like to think that its more to show them how valuable it is to you. Its kind of like trading a foil Charizard. Sure, I have a whole stack of them because I paid some guy in Asia for them, but its still valuable to me. Its the best card, and so is my business card. I want you to pry it from both of my unwilling hands.

They in turn will present their card to you, with two hands. You need to take the card from them with two hands. Again, people say this is a sign of respect, but I know its so they can’t renege on the trade. You have to use two hands to beat two hands, otherwise that bastard Stephen will run away and claim that he always had the Charizard card you just traded him.

And speaking of trading with someone, never toss your cards out willy nilly. Never throw it about with one hand. Never stack it up in the middle of the table and tell everyone that they can take one, but only one. Your card isn’t a bunch of Pidgeys. You have a damn foil card, and they need to work for it.


For post-trade, again, do as you would with Pokemon. When you receive their card, study it and make comments on how cool it is. Treat it like the first time you looked at a foil card. Just don’t lick it or smell it like most people do with foil cards. Oh, you didn’t? Don’t lie to me.

I don’t know why I have to say this, but don’t write on it. Treat it like it was worth the trade you just made. You don’t trade a Pokemon card with someone just to write on it, even if its their phone number or email.

Do not put it in your back pocket. Thats terrible. Not only do people try and tell me it represents you sitting on their face, but it ruins the card. Seriously. Just treat it like a great Pokemon card. You can slide it into your protective case, or you can leave it on the table face up. You’re trying to keep it in pristine condition.

You’re Now a Business Card Master

You have received your fake certification in Asian business card etiquette, now you can go out into the world of networking events and business meetings. Be wary, you may encounter difficult cards to collect, but with enough patience, time, and etiquette, even you can have their card too.

Oh, and I forgot. When you trade your card, make sure your name is correct. Only a fool would make such a simple mistake like that.

Good luck and have fun collecting all the cards you can. Remember, you’re never too good for someone else’s card. Even a Bellsprout is needed to complete a deck.


I am a writer, editor, and average comedian based in Shanghai, China. In my past lives I have started a few failed companies, been homeless, and drank professionally.

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