The "ming pian" (pronounced ming pee-in) is essential to life in China. A ming pian is a business card or a person's name card. In a country where the citizens don't all speak the same dialect, Westerners can't read the Chinese characters, and businesses and restaurants are here today, but gone tomorrow, ming pians are a life-saver.
Any time I go to a store or restaurant, or meet a new person, I try to ask for a ming pian. I keep all of my cards in a flip book and then I can show the card to my driver or a taxi driver and off we go. In fact, the local expat association has their own set of "taxi cards" printed, color-coded, and arranged on a ring. I always have those in my purse and use them often. Everything is grouped together by topic such as restaurants, hotels, shopping, medical, etc.
There is a polite way to accept a ming pian from someone. When presented with a business card, the receiver should take the card with both hands, thumbs on top of the card.
Ming pians are so useful that I am having some made for myself from a local printing company. It really is such a smart idea and I think I might continue using them after we return to the States.