Are business cards still a good idea today?
Not really… but also yes.
A sizable number of people in the business world still use business cards by default but that number is steadily decreasing every year. That makes sense though, doesn’t it? With the internet and websites like LinkedIn around, you don’t really need to carry around business cards to exchange information, right?
While that’s all true, you shouldn’t write off business cards completely just yet. There are a couple of reasons why, which we’ll talk about in this article. Maybe you do need to keep a couple of business cards around after all?
These days no one really uses business cards to exchange contact information. You just give people you meet at networking events your LinkedIn account information or your email address and hit it off from there. You then give them your business number directly if you’re completely serious about doing business with them.
Simple as can be and you don’t need a business card, right?
It’s true. You don’t need a business card to network effectively. However, giving out your business card to people you want to connect with might still be a good move.
If no one else is giving people their business cards, you automatically stand out by having business cards to begin with.
Since more and more people forgo giving out and exchanging business cards, you’ll be memorable just for the fact that you bothered with a business card at all. Sometimes, that makes or breaks whether or not someone does business with you. No one does business with a person that they can’t remember.
Also, if you’re a younger person who’s exchanging contact information with older people, they’ll probably find it endearing that you gave them your business card.
More importantly, they’ll also probably find it more convenient since navigating LinkedIn or other sites can be challenging for older people. That’s not surprising since a lot of younger people hate LinkedIn too.
Everyone remembers that one scene from American Psycho because of how over the top and ridiculous it is. All the business cards in that scene are almost identical. They might all actually be completely identical.
It’s a ridiculous scene but there are actually some things that you can learn from it.
While obsessing over the smallest details of your business card is dumb, you should strive to have business cards that are well designed if you’re going to be giving them out.
A good business card shouldn’t be overly complicated and should have all your relevant business information on it.
It’s not the late 80s anymore, so you’re probably going to want to have more than your name, company, phone number and address on your business card. Your business card should have:
- Your full name.
- Your company name.
- Your job title.
- Your phone number. Your business number or company landline is fine.
- Your email address.
- Your company’s website address.
- Your company’s physical address.
You could add your company slogan or a QR code to your business card… but that seems just a bit excessive. Also, you should only add your social media tags and links to your business card if those are relevant to your business.
As a general reminder, try your best not to give out links to your personal social media accounts like your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
It’s tempting to try and print out your own business cards from your home printer. After all, that’ll save you some money and a trip out to the printing company.
This is almost always a bad idea since the business cards you make that way usually turn out… quite bad. You should look for a printing company that charges reasonable prices to print out your business cards.
Hey, if you’re going to be doing this business card thing, you should be doing it right.
Remember that you don’t need to go overboard and print out thousands of business cards at once! Buying things in bulk is always tempting but in this case it’s not really necessary.
A hundred at a time should be more than enough but you can more than likely get by with just printing 50 at a time unless you’re expecting to go to a networking event of some kind.
Try looking around locally for a printing company that can handle doing it! They’ll probably be surprised to see anyone younger than 40 buying business cards and it’ll make their day.
While many countries still consider exchanging business cards to be a normal part of doing business, some countries take it to a whole different extreme. Japan has a… unique love for business cards. They love business cards so much that they have a whole business custom centered around business cards called “meishi koukan”.
If you try to direct a new business contact to your LinkedIn page or even worse, your Facebook page, you will be destroyed.
In the business world of Japan, exchanging business cards is an extremely formal affair by any sane standards.
That makes more sense than you’d think since the exchange of business cards is supposed to be a formal introduction between two people.
In Japan, no business can begin until you exchange business cards because that’s just how it works in Japan.
If you’re curious about what the rules for “meishi koukan” are and how you should exchange business cards if you’re ever in Japan, read up below:
- The most important person gives out their business card first.
- You must give and receive any business card with both your hands.
- Your business cards need to be face down when handed over.
- Your business cards should be kept visible for the rest of your meeting.
- Your business cards should be kept as pristine as possible.
To elaborate on point 5, you need to keep your business cards as well as possible because they’re seen as an extension of your person. A business card that’s in a bad condition means that you’re in bad condition and even worse, your business is in bad condition.
Also, you should never roughly handle anyone’s business card in Japan. That means that you shouldn’t shove another person’s business card into your pocket or handbag like you would in other countries. You need to put them in a special business card holder that you need to be carrying around on your person at all times.
Printing a couple dozen business cards and carrying around a few with you doesn’t seem like such a bad idea now, does it? While business cards are slowly becoming less and less relevant, that doesn’t mean that you should write them off completely right away. Being a young business owner or worker with a nicely designed, old school business card could make you stand out from the crowd.
Worse comes to worst, you have an interesting conversation piece.
Seriously, who even uses business cards anymore?