Do you have a business card? It’s a common refrain at networking functions; and in a world where instant gratification is King and many of our interactions are done digitally, there is still something to be said for the old school business card.
Nothing says pleased to meet you like a business card
If networking is about connections, the business card provides a physical manifestation of that connection. Picture this: You’re at a networking event. You meet two people from the same profession who could be of interest to your small business. You ask for their contact. One says ‘oh you can connect with me on LinkedIn’; the other engages in a meaningful conversation, ending by handing you their business card. Now, who would you remember?
Cement a new connection
In this world of quick fixes and digital downloads, there’s still something to be said for the old school business card as a conduit for cementing a connection. It’s far more genuine and personal than texting your number or suggesting someone look you up on social media. Real relationships begin with real conversations and a business card can serve as a tangible reminder of that conversation.
A business card is an extension of your brand
You’re out on the road attending a trade show or you’re at a coffee shop and you’ve just met a prospective client; it’s time to close the conversation. You pull out your business card, look your new contact in the eye and end with a handshake. Your client/prospective contact has just left with a little piece of your brand tucked away in their wallet.
Your card has served two purposes: it’s acted as a piece of direct marketing for you and your brand, whilst also providing a physical manifestation of your brand’s style. For this reason, it’s imperative your business card is a direct reflection of your brand. First impressions count. Make certain your business card provides a great first impression. Paper stock, finishes, embossing all have an impact and will show your business off to its best. Or you can even opt for specialist custom made cards such as those with a metal finish to really stand out from the crowd.
To market… to market…
While you spend money on Facebook ads, SEO and EDMs there is still a lot to be said for the power of the business card as a direct marketing tool. Give a client your business card, and providing they have had a positive experience, they will hold onto that card, maybe file it away or keep it in their wallet.
If they know someone else who is looking for your service they are more likely to remember you, your card, your conversation…and recommend you. Given that business cards were invented as a trade convention in 17th century England, the fact that they make for a great marketing tool should be a given. By the 19th century these ‘trade cards’ were so popular they became one of the most common advertising formats. Today these cards are collector’s items and provide a peek into businesses of yesteryear. Who knows, maybe your business cards unique design may see it behind glass in a museum in years to come.
I’ve got my card, now how do I use it?
A business card provides a direct introduction so it stands to reason that when delivering your business card, you want to get the process right. Indeed, some countries such as Japan and China have very strict protocols attached to the exchanging of cards. Get it right and you will do well. Get it wrong and you might as well pack up shop. And lefties, look out: presenting your business card with your left hand is a faux pas, so be sure to always hand it over with your right hand. It also goes without saying that you make direct eye contact.
Don’t just hand your card out to all and sundry. You’ve invested time and money creating a business card that is a reflection of your brand. You’ll get the best return if you only give it out to people you feel you have engaged with. If you’re travelling overseas for business, why not consider having one side of your card translated into the local language. If you’re travelling to China, consider using gold print – as gold is considered a symbol of prosperity. Accepting a business card in Japan – use both hands – but hand yours out with only one. And always remember to treat the business card with the same honour you would the person it represents.
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