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In Praise of Business Cards

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I’ve recently run out of business cards, and have been pondering the necessity of ordering some new ones. On the one hand, it could be argued that they are an archaic throwback to the days when everyone did business in person, and that I shouldn’t need them, seeing as I most of my dealings are electronic. On the other, they can be a good visual prompt for reminding people who I am and what I do. After all, I don’t hand out my CV to everyone I meet in a professional setting, but I can give them a card, which serves as a very short summary for the professional services I offer.

Despite all the claims that were made when the dotcom bubble first began inflating, the days of the paperless office are yet to arrive. And a business card, even if it is simply filed or left on somebody’s desk, is still more immediate and tangible than having to trawl through email addresses to remind yourself of somebody’s contact details. I collect them obsessively, and have been known to take more than one so that I can pass them on to others who might need them. This can be another form of networking, as you can bring disparate people together, with yourself as a common reference point.

The trick for a good business card is to make it professional yet memorable. This means that while it should fit with your corporate ethos, it shouldn’t be so outre that it actually detracts from your overall image. This means that accountants and lawyers probably shouldn’t be busting out the crazy graphics and neon green, while professionals such as graphic designers and advertising executives probably have a little more leeway with their choice of design. Personally, I prefer a small logo as opposed to a graphic that covers the entire card.

The business card I’ve been using until now has been very basic, almost Spartan, with just the following information:

  • Name
  • Activities
  • Mobile number
  • Email address
  • Slogan

Of course, this was before Inari Media, so I can now add this URL, in addition to my LinkedIn profile, Facebook and “work” mobile number.
In this day and age, it is no longer seen as shady to have no physical address on your card, especially if you’re an internet worker. The key, however, is to provide as many means of contact as possible, in order to reassure contacts that you are not a fly-by-night operation. If I was really worried about not having a postal address, there are any number of virtual offices and maildrops which I could use, though then you have the prospect of awkward conversations about why people cannot just drop by the “office” if they happen to be passing. Far less hassle to simply state that I don’t have a personal office, and do not particularly want the world and its uncle know where I live.

After hours of prevarication and dithering, I have finally managed to decide on a final design for my new business card. It will be relatively formal, with just a small logo to accompany the text, which will be updated contact details on the front and a little bit of extra information on the back. Of course, there will be people who tell me that I don’t really need a card, but I do believe that business cards do still serve a purpose, if only to serve as a reminder of my existence to those who don’t live their lives on the web. It never pays to second-guess your audience, and I know that some of mine still appreciate touches that others might consider old-fashioned.

[Image by Scarlet Rose]


1 Comment

  1. Jack Sinai says:

    It’s a very interesting dilemma, but now a days, there are sites that gives 250 free business cards (like the one i posted), so why not having a business card? :-)

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