When’s the last time you received a business card from someone? When was the last time you updated your own? How often do you go out of your way to ask for one?
In today’s day and age where everyone can connect professionally to everyone else through sites like LinkedIn, the art of the business card can seem somewhat less relevant than it used to be. But don’t be fooled! Business cards are still a very significant part of today’s professional world.
Who should have business cards?
Everyone! If you’re a business professional, you should already have gone through a few iterations of your card. If you’re a college student, you should especially have one. If you’re a college student attending networking events (and we highly recommend that you do), give the people you’re talking to more than just your resume. A business card will impress them since it’s coming from someone so young. This lets them know that you’re serious about taking a step forward in your future career and that you’re well prepared. Not sure of what to put on your card? We’ll show you toward the end of this article.
Why are business cards so important?
Other than the obvious reason that they allow people to keep in touch by obtaining that person’s basic information (name, company they work for, their position/title, email address, phone number), business cards are critical when it comes to personalized forms of marketing. Whether you’re on a job interview or have just met someone, they can be your first impression. In addition, because business cards are low cost and portable, you can essentially build your brand or get your name out there more efficiently. This will make you or your company more identifiable, especially if you have a slogan or logo on your card that really connects you to what your goals or mission statement is.
When to have a business card transaction
Remember—business cards aren’t a one-way deal. They’re a nice way to bridge together potential opportunities. Here are some great times for you to do just that:
1. After an interview: Always ask your interviewer(s) for their business card and then give them your own. Many people do not do this after their job interview, and it’s definitely a must. If you have more than one interviewer, having their business card will allow you to follow up with them without having to find their email addresses. Giving them your business card has the same effect, so that if they want to reach out to you, they have all the information they need without having to contact the hiring manager or sifting through your resume to find your information. Additionally, it adds a nice finishing touch on both ends to make the process a bit more personable and communicable.
2. When you’re networking: If you’re at a “Meet the Firms” event or simply strike a conversation with someone at a restaurant during lunch time waiting for your to-go order, business cards are super handy during networking moments. Always ask for one rather than handing out your own. This puts you in control of the contact situation. You would rather have 20 business cards of people rather than distribute 20 of your own and not have a single call back. If anything, you’ll be able to expand your network or even make a friend or two.
3. When someone asks for one: Don’t distribute your business cards like flyers on the street. You’re not trying to use them to reach as many people as possible—that’s what billboards are for. You want to use them to reach as many people who are relevant to you as possible. So, use your best judgement.
What should your business card look like?
If you haven’t seen the film “American Psycho” with Christian Bale, we highly recommend it; not only for the great psychological thriller that it is, but particularly for this one scene about business. A wealthy investment banker surrounded by his peers, Christian Bale attends a meeting in a conference room where they compare new business cards they all have made for themselves. Watch this short clip to see what unfolds.
Pretty good, right? Obviously, this is a hyperbolic situation. Your business cards aren’t going to go under that much scrutiny, but you do want to have one that’s nicely designed and impressionable. After all, your business cards are mini versions of you, reflecting who you are as you hand out your information to business professionals with whom you’d like to keep in touch. Here are some typical content and design tips:
For the college student
1. College’s name
3. Titles or positions held (if any)
4. Major and/or minor
5. Email address
6. Phone number
7. Website (if you have a blog, site, or online portfolio)
For the business professional
1. Company’s name
4. Phone number
6. Fax number
Some design tips:
1. Keep your business cards to the most common size, which is 84mm x 55mm
2. Keep your colors complimentary
3. Make sure your text is readable font and size-wise
4. Include additional information only if it is important
5. Create a unique design that stands out but isn’t overwhelming
6. Add a logo or slogan that speaks to who you are or what you’re trying to accomplish
We hope your next business card transaction is a good one. Happy networking!