This article contains important information regarding one of your most important business tools, the business card. There are many tips and tricks you can learn that will help you get the most out of this tool, from ordering the right type to proper etiquette as you distribute them to others. If you will buy business cards in the near future, you should learn the vital information below. You can know the best style of business card and font to use. You will also learn what types of important information to put on them, such as different methods of contacting you.
What is the proper method of distributing your cards to others? How many should you bring with you to various conferences? What is the purpose of your business card? Not all are used for the same purposes — it depends on the circumstances surrounding your interactions with other business acquaintances. Learn about this and more below.
Each Business Card Style Serves a Different Purpose
The most important thing you should know about business cards is the purpose they will serve. If you are a business owner, you will want a different style of business card than someone else who is trying to land a gig. I’m a business owner, and I have multiple businesses. When I use business cards at events, sometimes I’m speaking other times I’m simply sitting back in the audience. I’m at a point with my business where I’m pretty selective about who I want to spend time with. My business cards are geared a little bit differently.
Business Cards for Business Owners
My business cards simply say “business owner” on them. They only have my email address, because honestly, I am very careful about who gets my phone number now. That business card, for many people, they’ll say it violates a number of rules. However, for me, it serves my purpose.
It has plenty of room that I can write on the back of it. It sends the message that I want to send. Here is a good example, I met a guy named Chris Brogan at the New Media Expo. I shook his hand and he didn’t know me from Adam, but I know who Chris is. Chris is actually one of the leaders on the internet. For the last decade, he has been someone out there leading the charge on where the internet is taking us. He was defining what the internet is going to be. He’s got a very popular blog. Now, when he looked at my business card, he saw owner, it immediately had sparked his interest.
I also mentioned at some point, he picked up that I was in the Marine Corps. All of a sudden, he meets a marine who’s a business owner. He was very interested, and it turned into a guest post. My purpose was to send a message and to connect with other business owners. People who are running companies that I respect, and I knew that they would pick up on that kind of stuff, so my business card served its purpose.
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Business Cards for Getting Gigs
Let’s assume you are out there looking for a job. That business card needs to be innocent. It should list some of your unique skills and things that set you apart. It should not contain a full resume, because you don’t want your business card to be cluttered. You do, however, want to make a positive first impression that is memorable. That is important because, if you are memorable, you will get hired.
Often, you’re going to meet somebody and give them your card. To be honest, there’s not going to be a connection if you’re not memorable. If you’re some somebody that strikes into their memory, then you will be able to display innocence when they meet somebody. I just met someone that you need to meet and they could pull out your card they’re going to be able to make that connection. In summary of this point, focus on the purpose of your card.
Keep Your Business Card Simple
The next point is to keep it simple. Make sure the card is readable. You will not believe how many business cards I get from other people where they are difficult to read. They are cluttered with information. It’s actually difficult to understand who is this person, and what are they doing. Make sure you use a readable font. Not everyone actually has perfect vision. Many people may miss read it. Many will throw it away. You get a very short time frame, so again make sure it’s got your best contact information and multiple forms of contact information.
I mentioned that I violate this rule, but I do it on purpose to create barriers. If you’re out there looking for a job, you want to have a great email. You want to have a professional email. You want to have your phone number and perhaps your LinkedIn profile. That not going to be for everyone. Not everyone is going to want to have their LinkedIn profile promoted. However, for you, it’s going to be import. It’s going to be relevant.
Some people prefer to talk. Make sure there are different ways of contacting you. I like to talk on the phone. I also like to interact with people, believe it or not, via video. I send people video messages. Many people would rather type everything out. That’s why you need to have multiple forms of contact, so the person that wants to reach out to you with an opportunity can do so through their preferred method.
Keep Your Business Card Clean
Keep the card clean. I like to keep it clean because I carry a pen. Often, I will write on the back, especially if I’m speaking with someone and they’re creating a solid impression. Sometimes, I will write notes on business cards because I don’t have to remember. Then I can put that card in my pocket. Thus far we’ve already discussed keeping it simple, as well as keeping the card clean. Next, we will discuss keeping the information on your business card accurate.
Keep It Accurate
Make sure the information is accurate. I have actually received business cards in which the information wasn’t accurate. This also applies if you are changing jobs, where you’re with a new company. Don’t give somebody your old business card. That may be all you have, but it doesn’t send the right impression. Don’t pen mark out old information that isn’t accurate. This is another thing I see which is really bad. People will scratch out inaccurate information and then write in their new phone number. To me, that shows a lack of preparation. It shows that you’re not taking this seriously.
It can be very difficult to read when you pen the new accurate information on the card. Pen on glossy cards smudges really easily. If it suddenly gets a little moist and smudges, I’m not going to be able to contact you.
Use a Professional Email
Sometimes I will receive a business card from someone, and the email will be something like, “email@example.com”. Of course, I respect someone who has five children. When you use that as an email address, it does not look professional. You can get away with using gmail or outlook. On the other hand, Hotmail and AOL emails project less professionalism. Avoid using Yahoo emails on business cards. If you look up what “yahoo” really means, it does not have a professional ring to it.
Make sure that the actual card is clean. This should go without, but I’ve had people hand me smudged dirty cards that they had in their back pocket for who knows how long. Honestly, I don’t want to even touch the thing. This touches on another related issue, having a system for handing out business cards.
Have a System for Presenting Your Business Card
You should have a system for giving people your business card. Whenever I hand out cards, my right pocket contains my business cards. My left pocket contains business cards of other people. When I take your business card, I will first acknowledge the card. I look at it. It is a sign of disrespect if you put it away too quickly. After this, I will put it in my left coat pocket. Then I take my business card out of my right pocket to hand to them.
The reason why you want to do it this way is because it can get very disorganized without it. I have seen people at networking events where business cards are going all over the place. Make sure you have a system in place for handling this. If you don’t currently have a system, feel free to use mine because it works well for me.
Order Business Cards Online
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Take Enough Business Cards With You
If you are going to a conference to network with other people, you’re going to be going through many business cards. You should plan ahead. If you’re going to a conference of 2,000 people, bring 500 business cards. Sometimes people will go with 20 or 30 business cards. In that situation the person giving out cards has to be really strategic in who they hand out cards to. Otherwise they will run out very quickly. Who knows, you could easily give out 20 business cards in 20 minutes, if you are the type of person to really work a room hard. Because I’m a speaker, many people want my business card. I’ll put a small stack in front and people can come by and grab it. They can then reach out to me later.
Another thing I will do with business cards is place them strategically at various points. If I mistakingly forget to bring my big stack, I’ve got extra cards in all my sports jackets. I’ve got another fifty to a hundred cards in various pockets on the inside. I do this because I don’t forget my sports jackets. Because the business cards are in their pockets, I never forget them.
When I pack my luggage, I use a list to make sure I remember everything. Business cards are on that list. I put stacks of them in my car or truck. Now if I’m flying, I won’t have access to those. I will have 50 to 100 cards in the console of my vehicle. I can always go back and grab those. The final place where I keep at least five of them is inside my wallet. Sometimes they do get a little bit beat up. That does violate a rule I put above. However, sometimes having those cards available is better than having nothing. I keep them in a small little case a little plastic case that actually does a decent job of protecting. They are clean and they don’t get smudges, but they do get a little bent up.