After spending much time deeply immersed in the high-tech, heavily wired world of virtual networking, it can become easy to overlook some of the “old school” networking tools. Front and center among these time-tested tools is the business card.
I often host networking events designed to connect savvy professionals seeking to build their networks and create opportunities to? collaborate with one another. Given that people come expecting to meet many people for the first time, it always surprises me when people arrive without business cards. When this happens, it isn’t that the cards were inadvertently forgotten on the desk in the made dash out the door. Most of the “card-less” networkers, including small business owners and job seekers, explained that they didn’t have business cards at all.? This caused me to wonder if others felt similarly, that the business card had become as obsolete as the typewriter I still have in the garage. And, if the business card was still relevant, how has its use changed?
Among the changes I’ve incorporated to my own business cards are:
I no longer include my address or location. As more and more business is done virtually, our location becomes less relevant.
In addition to my own site URL and email address, I include URLs to find me on LinkedIn and Twitter. Granted, sharing the link to your Twitter feed may not be for everyone, but every professional should have and promote their LinkedIn presence.
I use card stock with a flat finish, which allows notes to easily be written on the back. I frequently jot down where and when I met the person for future reference. Hoping I’ll retain this information in my memory just isn’t enough.
I asked a few of my Twitter friends for their thoughts and suggestions:
David Bisset includes his LinkedIn, Twitter and Friendfeed links on his new cards. Many of his business contacts are active social media users.
Kim Smith feels the back of the card is “valuable real estate” and should be used, but cautions against using glossy card stock making it nearly impossible to write on the card.
Russell Tripp pointed out that cards of an irregular shape are difficult to handle. (The internet is loaded with examples of 3D and irregularly shaped cards, but I think you need to think through the desire to stand-out with the practical matter of how someone slips the card into their pocket for future reference).
Barry Motlz summed up much of the input I received about the relevance of business cards with, “Business cards will always be important since virtual relationships will never replace having an in person meal with someone.”
Busy networkers like Barbara Bailey, who hands out thousands of buisness cards at events every year, consider them an essential tool which one should never be without.
Some, including Gerry Bourgeois, prefer more high-tech methods of sharing contact information. Gerry uses a service Drop Card which he demonstrated by sending his contact information to my email address from his phone.
What do you think about business cards? So necessary or so over? If you have cards, how have they evolved over time? Have a better solution for exchanging contact information?