For many years, business cards have maintained their position as a valuable networking tool. When mingling at events or simply interacting with strangers in day-to-day life, business cards are a quick and easy way to swap contact information via a physical, tangible piece of paper.
In today’s networking and business culture, it shouldn’t surprise you that many people are doubting the efficiency of a business card, considering so many interactions and even introductions occur online. LinkedIn has become one of the world’s top business networking sites, where a card certainly isn’t necessary – not when your potential associate or employee’s information is laid out entirely on their profile. Instagram accounts are even deemed a socially acceptable way to do business, as many companies and professionals have their emails or contact information coded in their profile. In the age of ‘swapping socials’, do we really need business cards to network? The answer, quite plainly, is no. However, they still prove to be a valuable tool. I’m not throwing mine out any time soon and I suggest you hold onto yours, too.
While you can network without the use of a business card, there are definite pros to having one in your pocket. A business card not only acts as an extension of your person, but is a physical translation of your skills, services and what you can offer another person. Sharing social medias with your potential client, employee, or business partner is all and well, but a physical business card brings another level of seriousness and credibility to your brand especially if you’re a small business or breaking into a new industry. Social media is so casual and shareable that it’s almost nonchalant to share your account with another person, while a card allows you to express your interest in a medium that is widely accepted as professional and serious. The physical look and feel of a business card, especially a creative or unique one, can be shared easily from person to person. After a client interacts with you and is happy with your services, they can easily pass your card to someone else.
Sharing a business card is actually a lot quicker than swapping emails or social medias. If you’re in a rush, grabbing a card from your pocket makes for a much smoother transaction versus typing in each-other’s devices for a prolonged period of time. Business cards also allow access to your information even when your phone is dead or out of data, allowing people to find you online even when you’re offline yourself.
On the other hand, just because cards are a positive thing doesn’t necessarily mean you need them. Many people in the media/entertainment business rarely use cards as they’re seen as a ‘faux-pas’. Some professionals claim they never bring cards in order to reverse power dynamics – by taking someone else’s card instead of giving them your own, you regain control in the business exchange by getting to contact them instead of waiting for a call or email. Business cards instead of personal cards are also deemed less-valuable. By using your company cards in lieu of your own, you risk losing that business contact when you move on from your current position – which in some cases, can be a costly loss.
From what I’ve read, cards are definitely not dead – but there is a way to use them correctly. Make your own, personal business cards. Use a simple gmail email or one of your own design as the method of contact on the card. Print a few, no more than 100 at a time, as many of your connections will develop digitally. Hand them out sparingly. Think of all the cards you’ve received and never used. Save cards for time-sensitive situations or connections you think will really benefit from a paper exchange.