It’s 2015, right? Why are some people still carrying little stacks of cards in their pockets to exchange contact info? They probably have phones, right? Why risk the paper cuts, why stuff your wallet with all these little business cards so that you can remember who it was that offered to cut you a deal on printer ink or whatever it is that you’re buying?
The last time I came home from a convention, I could’ve done magic tricks or dealt at a poker game with the deck of business cards I’d accumulated. I’d noticed a weird trend with these cards. The majority of them left zero space to write a note. These cards were apparently trying to compete with websites, cram-packing every last square millimeter of space with product listings, flashy graphics, multiple URLs and email addresses, sometimes printed on glossy card stock, both sides stuffed to the gills with more information than I would ever need.
Incidentally, the only person I wound up contacting was someone who gave me a simple business card with enough white space on it for me to write a personal memo-to-self right on the face of it. This guy, I remembered why I took his card. I don’t know what I was doing with the other fifty-one jokers in the deck. On the other hand, I’ve sent an email, a friend request or a tweet in the direction of almost everyone who exchanged contact info with me by phone, thus, starting a conversation on-the-spot!
So here’s my question: Is the age of the business card over and done with?
Short answer: Yes it is, get over it.
Long answer: Yes and no, they can still be kind of charming.
The thing is, business cards can’t compete with a Facebook befriending or a Twitter follow or a connection on LinkedIn. Social media allows a two-way communication that it’s more immediate. A business card is just a couple of pieces of information on a piece of paper.
But, the old-fashioned nature of a business card has a certain amount of appeal. It’s nice being able to make a note on the front or back of a business card. A business card is something that you can hold in your hand, and that can make it feel a little more personal.
As I see it, there’s still a place for business cards in business culture, and there always will be as long as humans have hands and pants have pockets. People who are still using business cards in 2015 only need to embrace what makes the business cards different from a digital connection. Don’t try to stuff your whole website onto the front and back of a business card. Throw a QR code on there and let people visit you at their leisure. Write personal messages on cards, make sure that everyone carrying your card has a story attached to that card about having met you.
But, the truth is that you just plain don’t need business cards anymore. If you happen to forget them at home or just don’t wish to use them anymore, here are 5 terrific ways to replace your business card with technology:
- Set up a compelling v-card (virtual business card)– Add your contact information to your phone so you can share your v-card with others via text or email. Include more than just your name, address, title, phone numbers, email, etc. Add images, links to your website, social networks, video and much more. Smartphones offer creative ways to share your contact or business information.
- Use LinkedIn and connect digitally– Shows your leads, professional connections and prospects that you’re not a dinosaur, and you can probably chuck your cards in the trash without losing a single lead.
- Snap a picture– Most phone have a camera. Take a picture (not a selfie) of your contact’s business card and/or themselves to trigger your memory at the time of following up. *Make sure you ask for permission first when taking pictures of other people.
- Use your handles– That’s your Twitter handle. Ask your contact if they are on Twitter and connect with them instantly. You’ll be prepped to start that conversation.
- Take notes– Not on paper but on your phone. Most phones have a notes app. Use it! You can use your notes app to add unique information about your contact that you can refer to later on.
I hope these tips will help you next time you forget your business cards or simply get you to think of your phone as your “Smart Rolodex” when making new connections.
That being said, there’s no reason you can’t embrace what makes business cards unique, using them as a personal touch to lend your interactions some old-fashioned charm. Just know that the card’s role in business culture has changed.