Business Cards Aren’t Dead
Since we are living in the digital age, do we still need old-fashioned business cards or are they dying out much like my old Myspace account? I talked to industry experts to see, and I was surprised to learn that the art of swapping business cards is still very much alive.
Business Card Etiquette
Business cards say something about who you are, what you do, and where you can be reached, says Susan RoAne, keynote speaker and best-selling author of How To Work a Room®, The Secrets of Savvy Networking, and five additional books on connecting and building better business relationships.
Ms. RoAne, aka the “Mingling Maven,” has stood on stage, talking about networking to some of the nation’s largest universities and corporations, so when I got her on the phone, I hung onto her every word. She explained that business cards are still important, and why that’s not likely to change anytime soon. Business cards are a way to connect with people instead of just talking at them.
Business card etiquette as it turns out is a valuable skill. Imagine the other person standing in front of you is considering investing in your business, hiring you, giving you a big project, or ordering your product, and they ask for a business card and you say, “I don’t carry business cards.” How does that make you look? Pompous? Unprepared? Perhaps.
To market in a multigenerational way, give people the opportunity to email you, but if they ask for a card, don’t give them the song and dance, “Well, I don’t have a card because we haven’t used them in eight years,” she says.
There are top-level CEOs still have Rolodexes on their desks, says Ms. RoAne. Big hitters don’t want to ask their secretaries to search the Web in hopes of finding your contact information. Instead, they want your card. These are the people who make things happen because they pick up the phone.
Ms. RoAne said, “What if Warren Buffett meets you and says, ‘Do you have a card?’ and you come back with, ‘Oh no, you can look me up on LinkedIn.’” Warren Buffett’s next line would be, ‘Really, you just gave me homework?’”
Perhaps this conversation isn’t with Warren Buffett, but rather a venture capitalist, an angel investor, Mark Cuban, or a big client you’re dying to land. Regardless, it’s better to have a quality business card on hand than to send the message that business cards are below you.
Optimizing Your Business Card
When you hand out business cards, you’re not dealing blackjack, she says. A business card follows a conversation. “When someone gives us a business card, we should take the time to look at it and honor it with our eyes before we put it in a pocket.”
Ms. RoAne says a good business card should:
- Include your name (which should be big, and if you include your title, make it smaller than your name)
- Include your email address
- Include your website (in bold)
- Include your LinkedIn
- Include your contact number (which should be last)
It’s all about the end-user. You don’t know if your business card recepient is going to prefer to talk through LinkedIn, a phone call, or an email. Give people options so they can choose the one they’re comfortable with, and be open to connecting to that person in that way.
When you receive cards, it’s also a good practice to write something on the back, such as where you met the person or something from the conversation to help you remember them or jog the other person’s memory when you follow-up.
Matt Varanakis is the general manager of Presto Print in Salt Lake City, where he’s worked since 1995. He texts uses email, and social media non-stop, that doesn’t negate the fact that he needs business cards when he meets people.
Everybody uses business cards and it shouldn’t be just any business card, but a nice business card, he says. “Having a nice business card shows you have credibility and there is substance to your company,” says Mr. Varanakis.
Mr. Varanakis says he’s gone to meetings and deliveries, and if he doesn’t exchange business cards with the people he meets, he loses a potential business opportunity because he didn’t exchange information. “You have to have a business card, and you have to get people’s business cards because time is of the essence. It’s really important to have a business card because it refreshes people’s memories.”