Do You Really Need Business Cards?
At one time, business cards were a must for networking. They made it easy for new connections to get your name, phone number, email address, and any other relevant information. But in today’s technology-heavy world, does the business card still have a place in networking events and job fairs? Or is just fodder for the recycle bin?
Business Cards are SO 2010
You can find practically anyone online. And you absolutely must have a digital footprint so that people can find you, whether they want to invest in your startup, discuss a partnership, or hire you for their company. Platforms like LinkedIn go a long way. But a professional, digital portfolio is even better. Just make sure people can find it.
When you meet someone in person, you need a way to tell them how to reach you later. That’s basically the purpose of a business card. All of your future communication will be done electronically anyway. So why even bother with that first exchange of paper goods?
Tips for Going Electronic
Here are some ways to provide your contact info without a hard copy business card:
- Say your full name while shaking the person’s hand and looking them in the eye. This will help them remember who you are and to look you up later. It will also help you remember them.
- Have a really memorable domain name. Make it something that you can tell someone once, and they’ll remember it.
- Ask for their phone number or email and put it in your phone on the spot. Then immediately call or message the recipient to confirm the accuracy.
- If it’s appropriate for your business — say, you’re in inbound marketing or photography — ask for the person’s Instagram or other social media name and follow them on the spot.
- Use an electronic business card. With your phone, you can exchange information in the moment, and it can’t get lost like a paper card could.
- Google yourself regularly. Know what people may find if they simply type in your name, and make sure it’s what you want them to see!
The Case For Old School Business Cards
So have smartphones made the paper business card unnecessary? Well, sometimes modern technology has been known to fail when you need it most. Say you’re at a networking event and you’re relying on your phone to act as your business card. What would happens when the battery unexpectedly runs out?
Paper cards are also useful if you have an extremely common name or a hard-to-spell name. If your name is John Smith, someone may struggle to find you on LinkedIn or via Google. A card can ensure they have more to go on than just a name. Similarly, if people tend to have a hard time spelling your name, they might have a hard time searching. Give it to them in writing so they get it right.
In some industries and with some types of professionals, traditional is the way to go. Know your audience. Believe it or not, not everyone is as tech savvy as you might expect, and some simply appreciate formality.
Make Your Business Cards Stand Out
If you do go with a paper card, make it stand out. Business cards that look unique usually get a second look. Just be sure it’s purposeful and is in-line with your brand and the message you’re trying to put out in the world.
Vertical business cards work well if you have, for example, a long list of products. Vertical business cards may not be a good idea if you have a longer name or company name though, as the layout could become awkward.
Another way to stand out is to choose a different shape or material than the regular card stock rectangle. However, the different elements that get added to your business card cost money, and those costs can add up fast. Also, the content on the card is what needs to be unique, not necessarily the design of the card itself. Any extra qualities to your business card needs to have a purpose.
Whatever you decide, keep it on brand. Stand out without being too over the top. Having back up plans, especially digital ones, will help get you noticed and make those crucial connections.