Along with a new job or a new title typically come a new business card. You can make them yourself using a bubble jet printer and some template sheets purchased at any office supply store (but please don’t). If you’re new to business or you’re starting a company, what you need to know, first and foremost, is that your business card is an extension of you. It can tell a story by its shape, its size, its colour and its messaging. Put some thought and some energy into the concept because whether you realize it or not, it reflects and says more about you and your business than you know.
OK… on to the ‘card’inal rules:
When designing your business card:
If you’re designing business cards for either yourself or your company, keep it fresh! The best business card I ever received was a plastic card which mimicked a credit card. The phone number cleverly replaced the area typically used to identify the credit card digits. I’ll never forget that contact because the business card was so different and well done! I want to stress that I’m not a marketing guru but I will say that I receive A LOT of business cards and if yours stands out, odds are you’ll be remembered. If you’re looking for opportunities to build your network and be remembered when you email or call as a follow-up to that first encounter, know that your business card matters!
Handing out your business card:
The first rule when handing out your business cards is DON’T forget your business cards. Always have some on hand and at the ready. You never know when you might meet someone who matters to you and your network and the last thing you want to do is not have a business card on hand. When you arrive at a function, don’t ‘make it rain’ business cards. Be selective and only offer your business card to people who will gain actual value from following up with you or vice versa. This is definitely a case of quality over quantity. If you work for a company, the person at the helm will be more impressed by the fact that you had 1 or 2 meaningful interactions than if you handed out your card to 40 people with slim odds of ever engaging with you again. If you run a company or an organization, you should easily identify with this concept.
Receiving business cards:
As per my introduction to this topic, the person who’s providing you with their business card likely took the time to brand themselves and they took the time to consider everything from the color to the shape and size of their business card. When you receive it, look at the card and comment on something (it could be the logo, the tagline or anything at all). In doing so, you’re showing interest in what they presented you with which is… (and don’t be naïve here) an opportunity. When someone hands you their card, it’s an invitation to connect with them. DON’T ruin that by writing on their card in front of them, losing it amongst everything else in your purse or wallet or by putting it in your back pocket. Treat that card with the respect it deserves! Wouldn’t you expect the same?
All in all, your business card is an extension of you, your brand and your business. It should speak to the recipient and you should definitely follow up with people who’ve presented you with theirs. It bears repeating, every card is an opportunity so play your ‘cards’ right!