There are a lot of business people who feel that the traditional business card will soon go the way of the Dodo bird. The rationale 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, say, an iPhone or Google Android in hand) to exchange contact information.
Admittedly, it’s a pretty cool concept, but until it’s the norm rather than the exception for contact information exchange, assume that our beloved business cards will always find their way to our pockets (or at least our desk drawers).
Here’s a primer on getting the most out of your business cards from your friends at Dale Carnegie Training of Michigan:
1. Always Keep Some With 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 — 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 a reason to conduct a follow-up phone call. If you don’t take initiative, you risk the chance of that prospect forgetting about you. 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.
This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Michigan, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Michigan. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @micarnegie.
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