March 26, 2012

Business Cards: What do Asians know?

Filed under: Getting in the door, Q&A, Readers' Forum

In the March 27, 2012 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a business owner defends business cards:

I just read an article in the L.A. Times that says Passing out business cards is quickly becoming passe. Instead, I’m supposed to “bump” my phone with someone else’s to trade contact information. If cards are optional, then so are new clients and referrals. The end of that article points out that in the world’s fastest growing market, Asia, you’d better have a card because it’s crucial. I run a successful small business and I think anyone who doesn’t carry business cards is naive. Do you use business cards?

My Advice

Hmmm… what do Asians know that the rest of us don’t?

I run an online publishing business, and “digital” is an enormous part of my work and life. If there’s a way to do something more effectively or efficiently, I take advantage of it. Sometimes, digital technology enables us to do things we could never do without it — like publishing this newsletter and my books.

But I do carry business cards, and I don’t intend to give them up. Guess I’m good to go to Asia.

Last week I gave a presentation, and afterwards I had a cup of coffee with one of the attendees — who is a potential client. She asked me for a business card. Suppose I’d told her, “I don’t use business cards. Find my e-mail address on my website.” I’d have broken the pace of our discussion. It would not have helped.

I do a lot of business online and I don’t always meet my clients, so there’s not always a chance to use a business card. But for those in-person meetings and work sessions, cards are a necessity. I’ve encountered some people who don’t have a card to share, and sometimes — not always — this sends a bad signal. I quickly assess whether the person has a viable business, or is just knocking around, trying to get lucky. It affects how I judge them. Is that fair? I don’t think that matters. I know other business people who react the same way. Cards are cheap; so’s a simple website. If you’re too cheap to have both, you may not be worth talking to.

But there are lots of subtle benefits to cards. Some people are in too much of a hurry to recognize them.

If you want to encourage someone to talk to you again, it’s easy to offer your card. Asking for their e-mail address or getting them to jot down yours is a bit more awkward. (Not all phones “bump.”) Contrary to what that article suggests, cards are not all tossed in the trash. I have a large digital contact list, but I also have a well-organized box of cards that I refer to often.

I can write a note on the back of a card, to personalize the memory someone has of me. And when they give me their card, I can jot a note on theirs, too. I could do it on my Droid, but so what? That card stays on my desk for a while and reminds me of the person. If the information is only in my phone, I won’t see it until I have reason to search for it.

A university professor is quoted in that article: “It’s time-consuming to organize business cards — and not portable.” That’s pretty naive. New contacts earn their way into my phone. Many start out as cards. If I need them more than once or twice, I add them to my digital list.

One last reason cards are good: Design. A person’s card tells me as much about their brand as their website does. Do they care how they come off?

What’s most unfortunate about the article is its self-righteous tone. It pits “under-30″ and “young and Web-savvy people” against… who? Over-thirty and Web-ignorant people? Gimme a break.

The real punch line in the article reveals how gratuitous it is. “Firms that do business abroad, particularly in Asia, have found printed business cards to be crucial to corporate culture and ritual there.” In one of the fastest-growing markets, cards are crucial. Did someone miss a bigger point when writing this article?

Why come off like a clueless dork? Carry cards as well as one of those digital communication thingies, what do you call it? A smartpod? A pad thingy. You know what I mean — here, I’ll write it down on my card for you… Call me. We’ll do lunch.

Do you use business cards? Are they on the way out? What do Asians know that the rest of us don’t? Do biz cards offer anything that digital doesn’t? Post a comment… or write me a letter…

: :

40 Comments on “Business Cards: What do Asians know?”
By Larry Kaplan
March 27, 2012 at 12:24 am

Some day, business cards may well be a thing of the past, as everyone bumps phones. But for now, carry cards, even if you have a phone to bump. As you said, they’re cheap. BTW, I am seeing more and more cards without mailing addresses, and just phone numbers, email addresses and websites. So, the trend is unmistakeable.

By Kevin Payne
March 27, 2012 at 12:42 am

You are dead on right about business cards, IMHO. I specifically wanted to comment about the value of the design and branding that is conveyed. Our company’s cards are unique in their shape and color but not “too unique”. Rather, they match our look and feel of our products and our website. I get lots of compliments on our cards as being creative and classy but not too clever. Conversely, I’ve had people give me “micro cards” (about 1″ by .5″) which someone must have thought was cute but completely functionless (e.g. they drop to the bottom of the card box).

One other point though…at least if you’re in Japan (maybe elsewhere in Asia) don’t write on the cards, especially the front. It’s considered rude and don’t put them in your back pocket…insulting. Invest in a card holder.

Thanks for your great columns!

Kevin

By James Ab
March 27, 2012 at 12:54 am

I’m an American working/living in Hong Kong and mainland China, and across APAC for the past 5 years. Cards are essential. To add on to Nick’s great comment when he says, “One last reason cards are good: Design. A person’s card tells me as much about their brand as their website does.” It’s not just design that’s important, but the weight of the card, a watermark, and especially raised lettering, all these details of the card, to me, represents the detail and importance that they put into their work for the customer. In my opinion, and it may be wrong, but since most contacts are now passed digitally, you can spend a bit more money on the “A-Level” cards. In Asia, perception and brand is huge.
One final note, when out here in Asia, make sure you pass your card, holding it with two hands, name facing the person you’re meeting.

By Silvano Sogus
March 27, 2012 at 1:05 am

Definitely I agree with Nick. I’ve always seen business cards more like a “tiny brochure” of my business rather than a simple collection of contact data.

Moreover, as you remember of people by seeing her bc on your desk, your visiting clients will see them as well, and if the bc’s design is particularly “catchy” they might be intrigued and ask more about it – this happens to me very often.

Thank you Nick for bringing up this subject.
S.

By Gigi Johnson
March 27, 2012 at 1:23 am

I chuckled at this post, as well as at the LA Times article that prompted it. I just spent a full day importing into my CRM system the large stacks of business cards I brought back from South by Southwest Interactive a week or so ago. The only people who didn’t have cards were the ones who sheepishly admitted that they didn’t bring enough and ran out…at one of the big tech events of the year!

We’re adding new connections to Twitter or LinkedIn, but we’re still sharing cards in lovely colors, quirky shapes, or tiny Moo cards…or adding QR codes…but we’re not getting rid of these goodies. We instead were comparing card-scanning apps at SXSW. And we ARE adding our Twitter handles and taking off our addresses in many cases, or still leaving our fax numbers on. (Fax? Really?)

By G
March 27, 2012 at 1:25 am

It’s silly to say cards can be replaced by phone bumps until everybody has a phone that can do bumps. I have a fairly new smartphone and it doesn’t do that.

I’m not sure I’d be comfortable using phone bumps even when they’re available. It seems like that could be an excellent vector for passing viruses to my phone.

By L.T.
March 27, 2012 at 1:50 am

I remember a talk-show host who advised every job hunter to “put your resume on a business card”. Not to cram your 35 year work history into itty-bitty type than can be only read with an electron microscope. It meant get your “elevator pitch” edited down to name, contact info, and what you do in 5 words or less. No information overload. And a perfect memory jog!

By Mike Worden
March 27, 2012 at 2:33 am

Nick,
This article couldn’t have been more timely. I recently left my agency (where I had business cards) and moved half way across the country to be with my family. Just yesterday, I started looking into personal business cards to hand out as I continue to meet people. As I was thinking about it, I really didn’t see the point of putting my address on the card, so I am happy to see that this is becoming a common practice. I appreciate all the insights folks have posted so far. They couln’t have come at a better time.

By Yves Le Bray
March 27, 2012 at 3:30 am

I completely agree with Kevin and James: in Asia (& with people from Asia) do not write on a business card, nor put it in some pocket with negligence. Cards show who you are, weight and design are important, and they should be well taken care of.

Cards should be exchanged holding them with two hands and name facing. Then you should spare a few seconds reading them, and if you pay attention to your (Japanese) counterpart you will notice they emit sounds of approval/consideration and slightly nod their head while reading your title.

By Mayor Bongo
March 27, 2012 at 4:46 am

It is easy to put your resume on a business card. Just make a QR code of your Linkedin URL and print in on the back of the card.

By Swissguy
March 27, 2012 at 5:26 am

Nick,

I lost my job in October and have been attending regular power networking sessions every Wednesday morning. The great thing about these sessions is new people arrive all the time and many of them have just left companies that are potential new employers of the rest of us….

Business cards play an important role, not just to get our contact information to each other, but also as a frame of reference. Like you say, they often sit on our desks next to the keyboard and knock around for days, sometimes weeks. But often you hear about a lead that is right up the alley of the person whose card you have, so you pick up the card and contact is made – jobs are found. It works!

Finally, with reference to the marketing potential – putting your ‘brand’ out there – I sent for the Vista Print freebie business card as soon as I was out of a job. I used the space ono the front of the card to basically give the reader my 22 second elevator speech.

Here is how it reads:

Scott Pxxxxx Mxxxxxx
————————————
Delivering Financial Expertise
Since the Last Millennium with a
Focus on Reporting Production
Integrated Scorecards, Planning
and Analysis of Financials,
Expenses and Operational Metrics

8xxx Breezy Kxxxx Court, Xxxxxxxx, XX 2xxxx
Cell: 1.704.xxx.xxxx/eMail:Swxxxxxx@live.com

So now I have not just passed on my contact details, I have given this person a snapshot of my abilities as well as shown them that I am creative and innovative in my approach to how I do things.

Who knows, this might well lead to a job. I’m hoping is does, and even if it does not, it certainly is not doing any harm and in fact gets a fair amount of positive feedback for originality.

LOVE your column, Nick, by the way – I have a blog and know how tough it is to keep it going, and especially to keep it fresh, like you do. Kudos, Sir.

By Brian Jahnke
March 27, 2012 at 6:04 am

I cannot describe how pleased I am to hear/see a responsible adult speak out on these important topics – Thanks Nick!

As a serious businessman in a serious business (international sales consultant for suppliers to the luxury hotel industry looking to go worldwide) I feel more and more like one of the last people who wears a suit and tie, invests in his business cards and other marketing materials, looks the other person directly in the eye, has clean and shiny shoes, gives a firm handshake and whose word is stronger than any contract. This does not mean I am stiff and stodgy – I do have and fully utilise all the latest electronic business gadgetry in my business and do my best to keep up-to-date on the latest business practices (e.g. reading this column).

I think the LA Times journalist missed a crucial point: it depends upon in which industry you work. For a CTO in Silicon Valley, it is probably fully acceptable to bump phones with a prospective business contact. However, for those of us who are dependent upon referrals, word of mouth and the image we portray to gain new clients, business cards are one of the mainstays of our businesses, as much so as the networking that goes with it.

Let’s not forget that a business card serves many functions:
– communicates contact info
– can easily be handed to a third party (referrals)
– gives brief info about the nature of our business
– conveys image of our business style
– serves as a memory jogger for the other person at a later date

Bumping telephones serves only the first of these functions. So until someone comes up with an app to serve the other functions, business cards are here to stay.

Saying business cards are passé is, in addition to being possibly naive, similar to saying everyone can work from home and offices are passé, or we no longer need news media and journalists as blogs and bloggists are everywhere

Keep up the good work Nick!

Brian Jahnke
International Sales Consultant

By Chris
March 27, 2012 at 6:11 am

Nick, I liked your comment about a website. Here’s why:

I work in sales. Yesterday, I fielded a call from a guy who said he was going to build the biggest plant in the world for a certain manufacturing process. He needed the equipment that my company sells. The price of a single machine that he needs is about $2 million. He’d need about 20 of these things….and they’d account for only a part of the total plant assets.

You’d think I’d be drooling at this and move this guy to the top of my priority list. That’s almost an entire year’s backlog for the small company I work for. My commission would easily outstrip my base salary. First round’s on me!

His email address? It ends with @msn.com. That’s right. This guy is supposedly building the world’s largest plant for a manufacturing process and will spend probably $100 million, and he hasn’t forked out the $60 to register a domain name and get a starter website.

He may not be in the bovine excrement business. He may actually be doing this. But I highly doubt it.

In short, a website (and an official business card) doesn’t automatically make one legitimate, but it certainly goes a long way.

By Eric Cole
March 27, 2012 at 6:12 am

Echoing the comments of others on this subject, business cards are a must.

If you are going to go to the effort of having some made, best to ensure that they aren’t too flimsy. Thin paper cards say something rather uninspiring.

By jim jarvis
March 27, 2012 at 6:45 am

Like so many newspaper articles constructed to fill the ‘news hole’ in that advertising medium… this one was written by someone who obviously hasn’t been in international business, and has limited feeling for cultures beyond their own.

It IS all about branding and image, and courtesy. And has more to do with how the other person feels about you, than it does about you.

My phone bumps, but that would be rude. A simple card, on heavy stock, designed well, says volumes about you, so you don’t have to.

Focus messages belong on the back, not the front, and they need to be brutally short, and stimulate questions. e.g.:

Technology driven – International business
Salesforce development – Executive coaching

Finally, in the age of the virtual office, it’s not necessary to have a snail mail address. But it would be adviseable to have a locus, be it London, Singapore, New York, or Bristol, VT.
results@themorsegroup.net

By Matt Bud
March 27, 2012 at 8:08 am

Dear Nick,

Another bullseye. Business cards are a requirement.

Offering your business card is like offering a gift. It is hard for the other person NOT to give you one of his/hers if you offer yours.

They are also useful for determining whether someone is serious about their business or not. If you are a consultant with a REAL practice, your email address doesn’t end in @gmail.com or @aol.com.

Regards, Matt

By Martin J Perry
March 27, 2012 at 8:50 am

Clearly, you shouldn’t believe everything you read. The business card represents you in an initial contact – so it should look good and tell the receiver who you are and what you do in a second. It is your personal connection, and that is the real take a way. You will continue to use e mail and texting and phone with them, but that comes as a relationship builds.
One of the mistakes made by those of us using the technology is the assumption that everyone carries a smartphone, considers texting a useful tool and they have the latest, greatest laptop with access to the world 24/7. Nope not even close. There will always be a small group who consider themselves the trend setters or slavishly follow one.Don’t fall for it.
The 99.999% of us are ordinary people making their way in the world, and for the most part being very successful at it, trusting in their judgement.
It is always good etiquette to offer a card – no matter if it is discarded later. You have done you part
.
To imply an under 30/ over 30 divide is a specious argument. I find more often than not, younger people are looking for ways to differentiate themselves. Did you know that there is a brisk market in typewriters these days.? Use what works, reject nothing.
The sad part here is that a University professor is agreeing with the writer. I trust his students have greater critical thinking abilities than he does.

By Alan Robertson
March 27, 2012 at 9:19 am

Not only do I use business cards, I carry blank ones (from Levenger). I deal a lot with other techies and it’s often the case that they don’t have or didn’t bring their cards. When they say, sorry I don’t have any cards on me at the moment, I offer them a blank one – typically with the comment “I think you’re mistaken, here have one of these” or something appropriate to the person and occasion. I write when and where I met them and anything relevant to what we discussed. Most people whose business cards I get wind up in my LinkedIn connections, AND in my 3″ thick notebook of business cards on my shelf. Sometimes I need the visual reminder of the card or company to remember the name of the person (names not being my strength).

By Steve Amoia
March 27, 2012 at 9:57 am

This post by Nick produced many great comments.

While the electronic exchange of contact information may be in vogue, Alan Robertson made a salient point:

“Sometimes I need the visual reminder of the card or company to remember the name of the person (names not being my strength).”

If you meet 100 people at an event, and 90 “bumped” you, and 10 provided a card, who will you recall more easily? Especially if the 10 had a business card that was unique in some way?

I also find that it is helpful to have different cards for a variety of clients or situations. My business card for work in international football/soccer has an image of Pele. That one usually isn’t forgotten too quickly. :)

By Christopher Crawford
March 27, 2012 at 10:58 am

A lot of good comments to this topic. A few I’d like to add:
– business cards are good for writing on the back any key factors for your follow-up. Helps to remember strategic points.
– The best networking is face-to-face, because it quickly builds levels of trust. The business card re-inforces this.
– If the other person doesn’t have a card, ask them to open their portable-thingy and immediately send you an e-mail with their contact information. Then, on the back of your card, write the context of your meeting and other context for them to follow-up on.
– Being totally digital has it’s pitfalls: it erases the human element, thus becoming a little less genuine in the impressions you leave with the other person. It also sends a subtle message that you are more *self* interested (“I’m so cool”), than *other* interested. Remember, they are interested in what you can do for them (it’s human nature).
– Business cards are not an obsolete old fashioned business convenience — they are yet another tool that differentiates you, and when used effectively helps people remember why they might do business with you.

Good topic + good article, Nick —

Christopher Crawford
Business Development / Marketing Development / special focus in Alliance Management

By Nick Corcodilos
March 27, 2012 at 11:04 am

@Matt Bud: Thanks for providing a very weighted opinion!

For the benefit of anyone who doesn’t know Matt Bud — Matt is the chairman of The FENG. The Financial Executives Networking Group — the biggest community of financial execs in the world.

By Nick Corcodilos
March 27, 2012 at 11:12 am

Lots of great comments and tips on this thread! Some are particularly important:

1. Thanks to those who do business in Asia and who have explained how to use a card properly and respectfully. Art and ritual have been the basis of solid business relationships for centuries. I used the word “Asians” in the title of this posting for a reason: That culture is enormously savvy about how to start a business relationship. Pay attention.

2. The point about cards on the desk… I think it’s very true that the card that’s on our desk gets more attention than the data record in our phone. It’s always been my practice to put new cards I’ve received on my desk, where I can see them. They stay there for a week or two. It’s how I decide whether there’s reason to stay in touch with the person. I see their name and logo every day. I wait to see whether it stimulates ideas I can profit from, or ideas I can pass along to help them out. It “buys” my new contacts my attention for a while. Then they go into the trash or into my card tray. I rarely scroll through my digital contact index for ideas.

By Len Fardella
March 27, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Business or more specifically, business development is all about flexibility and response. If a potential customer or partner wants to “bump” then let’s bump. If they pull out their business card, then you’re going to look pretty foolish standing there empty handed.

To be blunt, I’m old enough to be a veteran of the “paperless office”. Need I say more about the “cardless” office?

By George
March 27, 2012 at 1:33 pm

I have spent the last 30+ years working in IT, and can put another perspective on this:

To paraphrase someone else: “When you have a hammer in your hand, everything looks like a nail to be pounded in. Us folks in IT only have digital technology, so what do you suppose our ‘solution’ is going to be?”

To take this a step further, the young’uns in IT still have stars in their eyes, and haven’t realized that digitizing every last little aspect of daily life is not always the best approach. Sometimes it is, sometimes the KISS principal is the better way to go.

I have digitized contact lists, but if I have established a contact that I know I want to use again, or to refer to someone else, I always ask for their business card. Digitize the contacts you want to carry with you, and buy a $2 card holder for the rest. QED.

By Steven W. Cornell
March 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm

I am a 58 year old laid off job seeker. I attend 4-6 networking groups a week. In December I forgot to take cards to a network meeting. So I asked everyone to use LinkedIn. I have been doing this ever since. I now believe Business Cards will be mostly a thing of the past. Mine will certainly be much simpler. Since December I have only used a half dozen cards. However I think for a couple of years they will remain somewhat prominent.

By Nick Corcodilos
March 27, 2012 at 2:38 pm

@Steven W. Cornell: I’m curious. When you askd people to use LinkedIn, what happens? Do they? Do you know that they did? Do they remember your name? Seems to me a card would help… (Needless to say, you could give each a card, and they might toss it in the trash for all you know…) I think what’s most important is leaving someone with an impression that makes them WANT to stay in touch. What worries me is, if they don’t have a card to refer to, will they remember my name? Heck, people who KNOW me can’t always spell my name! (I like cards.)

By Lucille
March 27, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Use many means of making a connection. Business cards are just another way to make a connection. Why cut yourself off from the opportunity?

By marybeth
March 27, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Nick, excellent points. I like business cards, and I’m not in Asia. Some of us here in the US still like business cards and paper. Yes, technology is wonderful, but not everyone has the latest, most sophisticated and most expensive electronic doo-dads. My cell phone won’t scan, track terrorists, boil an egg, or tell me where I’m supposed to be. It is a basic phone, which I got so that I could use it for emergencies, not to conduct my life and work from it. I do recognize that some people do just that–conduct life and work from their phones and other electronic devices, and that’s okay–for them.

I have an ethnic sounding and looking last name, which people always mis-spell, even though it is only 5 letters long, and even when I spell it for them. They mis-spell my first name, too. Having a business card to refer to helps. In my last job, I worked for an online program. I’d get inquiries usually via phone and email (generic office email address). All of my correspondence was done electronically; I had a stack of one-page fliers to take to conferences, fairs, and to mail to people who wanted something in paper, but the idea was to push people to the website. Most were okay with that (they’d have to be, if they were considering joining an online program), but for those who telephoned me, and who would ask for my name, I’d give it to them and then spell it. They’d always get it wrong, so I ordered business cards and would include one with the one-page fliers.

Many times prospective students gave me their business cards too, which I really liked. I met with and talked to and corresponded with a lot of people. If I met them in person, then having a business card helped me remember them, to put a face to the name. It is a form of an initial contact, just like an email.

Re technology taking over and making business cards (and other things) obsolete, I disagree. Business cards can’t be hacked; business cards can’t get wiped out or deleted unless I deliberately throw them out or destroy them. If the computer goes down, gets infected with a virus, or something happens, having a business card with the person’s contact info means I can still telephone him. Not so with an electronic database of names and numbers if the computer goes down.

I was at my last job for less than a year when the So Big virus hit the university and infected computers on campus. My computer was one of those infected, and it was down for more than two days. I couldn’t reply to inquiries, I couldn’t reply to people who sent me follow up emails. I couldn’t return calls to people who left messages saying “this is Don Jones. I talked to you last week. I have more questions, so please email me. You have my address (or please call me–you have my number).” I remember that a publishing company rep. had stopped by, and had given me his business card. I needed to get desk copies of textbooks asap, and I was able to order them because I had his business card, instead of a phone message pushing me to the website or just an email address.

Technology is wonderful when it works. When it goes down or when there’s a problem, then it is horrid, and if you tie everything up in technology, then you might as well go home when it doesn’t work.

Even our IT/LAN support tech (each dept./school was assigned one) said to me one day that he thought I was smart for not relying solely on technology to do my work. I told him that I don’t trust computers and technology entirely, and he smiled and said “good girl. I don’t trust them either.”

I used paper calendars at work too, rather than rely solely on Group Wise. We were having problems with Group Wise, and one day it went down. No one could access it, much less retrieve appointments, schedules, messages, and more. As fortune would have it, a big dept. meeting had been scheduled, the room and time had been changed several times, and since people couldn’t access Group Wise, they didn’t know or remember when and where it was. I had it written on my paper calendars…and afterwards several faculty and staff commented that now they could understand why I still had a paper system. They assumed that nothing would ever happen to Group Wise, and had chided me for having paper calendars, until I was the only person who could confirm when and where that meeting was!

There’s also something very impersonal about technology–you can’t look the other person in the eyes, hear the tone of voice, read body language (unless you’re Skypeing). Technology makes it easier to make connecting harder in ways. I’ll always remember the students who came to campus vs the ones I’ve only had email or phone conversations with. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t build relationships with them, but there’s nothing like a face-to-face conversation….hence Nick’s advice about the importance of getting in front of the hiring manager. It doesn’t mean phone or Skype or email is bad, just that those are some ways to connect, to communicate, but not the only ways.

By Nic
March 27, 2012 at 5:21 pm

What technology is doing is showing the background of both those addicted to it and those limiting its use. This is where breeding shows, big time. The use of a business card, the quality of the paper, the design and engraving of one’s business card says everything of the man or woman using it.

By Chris
March 27, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Since I travel to Asia quite a bit, I’ll even add this one. If you can afford it, have your cards translated on the back in Japanese, traditional and simplified chinese.

Four different sets of cards, yes, but does wonders for making asian business people comfortable that you at least care enough about their business culture to take your seriously much sooner.

By Lynda
March 27, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Well then, I will be out of the “bumping” loop. I do not have nor do I want a cell phone. Odd to the tech agers out there. I work from home, rarely meet a client or candidate in person and it has worked well for 17 years. However, I do have business cards. When out and about at gatherings it is still easier, professional and perceived as a friendly gesture to hand someone a business card( not always for business) should they ask for contact information. As Nick stated, it is awkward to have to get a pen, paper to exchange information as the timing may not be right or you may have a glass of wine or plate of food in your hand. :) As for the business card going out of style…I think not.. at least to my generation….the younger set may think that writing letters is passe…but it is still considered good manners no matter your age.

By Jim Torpey
March 27, 2012 at 6:50 pm

When I was in transition, I listed 6 bullet points with my skills on the *back* of my business card. I often led with the back of the card when I handed it to a contact. They would read the skills, then flip over to the front of the card with the usual contact information. They didn’t have to remember what I told them since it was already printed on the card.

By Arlington, Mass.
March 27, 2012 at 8:07 pm

.

I go to a lot of networking meetings in an area I’m trying to break into. I love getting people’s business cards because it makes it a lot easier for me to remember their names. Also, how am I supposed to find someone on LinkedIn if I can’t spell their name, which I may have only heard them say perhaps once while other things were going on in a busy room.

Plus a card gives crucial information in an elegant package. Like an egg. A perfect form. (I don’t have a bump phone either. Gotta’ say, I have never seen people bumping phones anyplace anytime. But I have seen plenty of cards exchanged.)

As to an msn email account – I have an email at my domain name, and their email interface is lousy! So, yeah – the domain name email is what’s on my business card, so people don’t make unfair and rash judgments. But the minute I’m in a “real” relationship with someone, I ask them to switch over to the vastly superior msn email. It’s never been any kind of problem.

By Don Harkness
March 28, 2012 at 3:03 pm

the demise of the business card should be filed with the demise of the resume.
I was in hi-tech and I don’t care how techie tech gets, in practice one hedges bets. Too bad for you if the one person you meet who you really want to connect with, doesn’t bump phones, accept your assignment to go to LinkedIn etc. but would like a business card.
I’m in the school they are not only essential, greatest tool since sliced bread.
What I found very interesting is that having lived/worked in Asia for 5 years over 20 years ago, Asian business card practice and protocol hasn’t changed one bit, nor do I believe it will change. The cards weren’t just cards, but part of a meeting ritual, a ritual of respect. This should make the Asian hands cringe, but a VP/founder in the company I worked for, thought well of himself and his status. He’d sit at the table and flip his business cards across the table like playing cards…you have to spend a lot of time cleaning up after his visits.
Another value of business cards is in meetings, the larger the more useful where you get hit with a lot of new faces and names, & Internationally some difficult names.. You put the business cards in front of you on the conference table, aligned to the seating around you. Very helpful in knowing who is who. It’s not considered rude, as you’ll see your counterparts doing likewise. But..I don’t know the other Asian hand experiences..but I was awed by their ability to remember names and faces of we foreigners

By Nick Corcodilos
March 28, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Someone gave me his business card in 1982 and though I don’t remember his name, I remember the card. (I’ve torn up my files more than once trying to find it.) On the front, it said only, “The answer is 37.” On the back was his name and contact information.

He was an engineer.

By Don Harkness
March 28, 2012 at 3:55 pm

then there’s this now famous infamous & true story about business cards
Back in the site’s early days, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg “acted like he was captain of a pirate ship,” handed out business cards that read, “I’m CEO…B**ch,” and rarely got up before noon.

By John Ziegler
March 29, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Nick,
You know this, but business cards ARE calling cards, and just the other day I found a colleague had left his BC on my desk as a way to say, “Hey, I stopped by to say hello, see how you were doing, etc.” Having someone take the time to do that is akin to actually hand writing someone a thank you note and sending via snail mail. That shows consideration for the recipient, and if the note is particularly well-written on nice paper, etc., it is several steps above the rote email response that has become standard fare. It is, as one responder posted, ceremonial.

By Tim Kivlin
April 5, 2012 at 1:42 pm

I don’t think this has to be an either/or type of situation.

Business Cards is the established way of sharing contact information. Bumping phones is the new and upcoming way of sharing contact information. As a general rule I am guessing the older generation prefers to share contact information via business cards and the younger generation prefers to share contact information via bumping phones.

I think people should be flexible and be prepared to sharing contact information either way.

By Clare Powell
April 20, 2012 at 4:22 pm

I don’t know a soul who bumps to share information. Perhaps that is because I don’t work with, or recruit people, who are younger than 35. Cards really do matter.

I recently forgot to place my reorder and found myself meeting with someone before the new cards were ready. I had to use an old one and write the new phone number on the front. Very unprofessional. Not my style and a first. Luckily, we are meeting again soon and the new cards are in.

Like Nick, I jot notes on the back and sometimes I use my phone to take a picture of the person too. Then I scan their card and combine the two in a file that makes it easy to remember them – especially useful when dealing with the media.

By Jack
September 11, 2012 at 11:16 am

Biz cards are a must, but use technology to make life easy for the person you give it to. I have just my name, telephone number and email address on the card, PLUS a qrCode and tiny url that lead to a page on our website that provides a download of my vCard with all my info included.

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