Don’t Throw Away Those Business Cards Just Yet!

April 5, 2012

I read an article recently about the coming demise of perhaps the most utilized marketing tool of all time—the business card.

The rationale—according to new age “techies”—is that business cards will be replaced by “bumping” smart phones for an exchange of information. That is, using the iPhone application “Bump” in a kind of fist-bump move (with an iPhone or Google Android in hand) to exchange contact information. From there your mobile network provider reports in the exchange to Bump HQ whose algorithms are looking at every Bump to match the two phones which Bumped at the same time in the same location. It also lets you instantaneously to send a Facebook Friend request, if you want.

Admittedly, it’s a pretty cool concept, but does it come at the expense of the death of business cards? I don’t think so. (I remember hearing back in the 80’s that we’d be living in a paperless office by now, and look how that turned out!)

So assuming that our beloved business cards will always find their way to our pockets (or at least our desk drawers), here’s six ways to get the most out of them from your friends at Dale Carnegie Training of New Jersey:

1. Always Keep Some On You — You never know when a networking opportunity may spring up. A casual trip to the bank or running some errands could lead to a chance encounter with someone whose business might benefit you or your business. When such chance encounters happen, having a business card on hand makes information exchange seamless, as opposed to worrying about “Bumping” them or finding something to write your information down on.

2. Exhibit Proper Etiquette — There is a right way and a wrong way to handle a business card exchange. For starters, if someone hands you theirs, offer them your own. Conversely, when handing out your business card, request the other person’s. When you receive a business card, don’t just bury it in your pocket. Instead, take a few moments to examine it. Jot a note down on the back of it if you need to remember something. This shows the other person that you are interested and take them seriously, as you would want to be taken.

3. Be Smart About Your Card’s Design — The look and feel of your business card can say a great deal about you. Cheap, plain business cards that look like they came from Kinko’s are not going to leave a lasting impression. Gaudy business cards, on the other hand, can be too garish and off-putting. You need to strike the right balance between aesthetic appeal and the quality of paper stock you print your cards on. You can also design your business cards to be interactive, such as including a QR code. It’s not quite a “Bump,” but it is high-tech!

4. Include A Slogan In Your Design — A 5-8 word slogan that succinctly describes your business in a catchy or smart way will help your business card stick out. For example, Target, and their slogan, “Expect More. Pay Less.” Just four words sums up the philosophy of Target clearly and concisely. Strong slogans like this add to the effectiveness of your business card and help build brand recognition for you and your business.

5. Business Cards Are An Active Tool — Ordering 1,000 business cards then waiting for prospects to come to you will only prove futile. Business cards are a tool for active networking. There is always something going down in the business world, regardless of what kind of business you’re involved in. Therefore, seek out networking opportunities by checking online and keeping your ear to the ground, then get out to these events and start delivering your business cards with every handshake you make.

6. Follow Up After Handing Out — If you received a business card from someone you are interested in doing business with, use the exchange as an reason to conduct a follow-up phone call. If you don’t take initiative, you risk the chance of that prospect forgetting about you (think “out of sight = out of mind”). For many, business cards tend to get easily lost among all the paperwork and miscellaneous paraphernalia that adorns their desk. As a result, it might be a long while before they get back to you — if they even do at all.

Remember, for the serious businessperson, the business card has been and will no doubt remain an invaluable tool in their networking arsenal. Even with all the advances in communication the past two decades — mobile phones, text messaging, e-mail, online messengers — classics like the telephone and the business card remain the most recognizable, understood and direct means to connect with a prospect or potential businessperson. For that reason, if no other, it’s important you put some time and effort into the design of your cards and maximize their use.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central & Southern New Jersey. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @CarnegieJersey.

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