Are business cards on the verge of extinction? I’ve been at a few recent events or in situations where I hand someone my business card and they tell me that their company has just gone paperless. What? Note that it is generally a company that makes this kind of decision, not an individual consultant or solopreneur.
Never travel or attend a networking event without a handful of cards
What happens to them after they’re exchanged is anyone’s guess. If you’re like most of my clients when I ask what they do with the contacts they make, they pull open a desk drawer and stare at a huge collection of dated cards. A better course of action, of course, is to be discriminating. Get cards from those people who are good potential connections. Add these people to your contact management system and newsletter list, connect with them on social media and schedule a coffee date with those whom you want to see again. Follow up with these people and build strategic relationships.
It’s a physical reminder in a digital world
Of course, one reason business cards are disappearing from both our wallets and radar is our reliance on social platforms. Do we really need business cards when we can quickly pull out our smartphones and instantly follow one another on LinkedIn? Maybe a business card really is superfluous.
But what about these people who are now going paperless?
All of a sudden, the ritual of sharing cards has been aborted. That act of shaking hands, making eye contact and exchanging cards has lost some of its impact. It’s not that you were dying to get another business card, but that business card, like your website or any other piece of collateral, says a lot about you.
An attractive, well-designed business card reinforces your personal brand, helps make a favorable first impression and sets you apart. Many people these days are finding ways to individualize their cards without making them—they’re using the backs to include a quote, they’re adding graphics. Terrific logos go a long way towards personalizing your card. More important, if you’re sharing it with someone with whom you genuinely want to follow up, that card has important contact information that they can reference, and you never want to make it hard for someone to get in touch with you.
Ultimately, business cards are still useful at keeping you fresh in the minds of the recipient. For those who really do like to take those cards home and follow up with their new connections, an important opportunity to connect has just been lost.
Business cards: inexpensive and still relevant
I gave up on print collateral long ago. It’s expensive and quickly dated. When people ask me if I have a brochure, I have no problem telling them that I’ve gone paperless and direct them to my website. That’s a trend that many small businesses and consultants embrace. But I’m for hanging on to your business card. It helps create connections.