You go to a networking meeting and you expect to collect business cards from the other people there. Even in 2023!…you expect to collect business cards from other people at the event. Yes, there will be some younger guy showing off his digital business card app that automatically pushes the relevant data into your phone when you get them close enough and press a button. Here’s the thing…I can’t remember the name, face, or business of any single person who has ever done that. More likely I’ll run across the contact on my phone (or computer) a year or two from now and think, “Who is this and why do I have their information?”
How can this be so? Why is it that in the digital age (or are we in the post-digital age?) so much of business still relies on just handing someone a fancy piece of paper with our information printed on it? Everyone assumed we would be past this practice by now, but I think there are a few reasons why.
Ease of Use
How does one of those “digital business card” apps work? Open up an app, get phones close enough to transmit through NFC, press a button, check to see if the person received the information…nope…gotta figure out why it didn’t work. Instead of having a nice conversation about what you do and how you might be able to work together, you’re sitting there trying to figure out why your Android won’t send stuff to my iPhone (let’s not get into that argument right now, though).
Compared that with reaching into your shirt or coat pocket, pulling out one of your business cards, and handing it to that possible client while you receive hers. Easy…you look at the card you received, read the name and title, and work through how to tailor your elevator pitch to that person in that moment. Easy!
There is a coldness to how we all interact through our phones and other electronic devices in the modern day. That was not helped by the pandemic and the fear of touching others’ hands lest we come down with a virus that could sideline us for an indeterminate amount of time.
The practice of handing over a business card in a networking meeting is the antithesis of this cold detachment, though. It practically invites a handshake and face-to-face conversation. Sure…make sure you have hand sanitizer with you and use it frequently because it’s not just COVID that goes around all the social circles…but present yourself as a real human being…you won’t regret it!
The Original Targeted Marketing
When you hand out a business card it costs money, just like getting a targeted ad (think Google or Facebook) in front of someone…and it serves much the same purpose! You identify specific target markets, try to get in front of them, then hand them a business card hoping to strike up a conversation and be remembered by them. I would argue that a good card and conversation is going to have a more lasting impact that just about any social media or search ad. Yes, you may have a wider reach with the online ads…but you are likely to have a higher conversion rate with the personal touch.
Convey a Brand Image
This is where we can talk about that famous scene in the film, American Psycho, where Patrick Bateman compares notes with colleagues about the impressiveness of their business cards: “Look at that subtle coloring. The tasteful thickness…It even has a watermark.” Yes, the scene is a little overdone, but how you present yourself in a business card can be the very first impression you give to others.
You may be in a modern, high-tech company that needs a feeling of movement or action. Maybe you’re a financial advisor and need to project an image of stability and calm. And if you’re a high-priced lawyer, you may need to show that “less is more” and have a very simple card with little information on it. The bottom line is that it is often your first impression…and you don’t get a chance to make those again.
They Can Be Easily Passed On
Pass your information to me electronically and not only will I tend to forget about having it…I’m unlikely to hand it off to a friend or colleague that may have use of your services. But business cards? They are practically made for passing around to other people. It’s a remarkable thing how many cards from other people I’ve handed to others over the years…sometimes it’s as simple as telling the card-holder, “Give me a couple extras…I know someone I can give these to!”
That’s not even mentioning the fact that I have a little stacks of business cards on my desk from different places over the years. Every now and then, I’ll look through them and see if there’s anything I need. Yes, some go in the trash…and sometimes I’ll think, “I have need of that service now…let’s give this person a call!”
I hope you’ve seen just how important a business card can be…next time I’ll look at a few ways to make your card stand out from others.