Have you considered creating your own personal business card?
While it’s not a mandatory item, business cards help you stand out during a networking engagement. It’s great for helping people remember who you are, and enables them to easily connect with you afterwards.
Having your own business cards also make you appear more professional, and prepared. Nobody wants to be the one scurrying for a piece of paper or napkin to write down their information for a new connection.
If you’re thinking of making a professional investment in this area, here are some tips on developing and using your business cards.
What to include on them
The biggest thing to remember is to keep your business cards simple and straight to the point. Putting every bit of information on them is not necessary and includes only the things that you don’t think will change in the near future.
For example: you don’t want to have to get a new batch of cards made if your information changes. Consider keeping info that might change in the near future off the card. If a crucial piece of info is subject to change however, consider ordering and printing your cards in smaller batches so you don’t have a ton of leftover copies.
The most important things to include are your name, email, and phone number. However, since email is so prevalent nowadays, you can consider leaving out your phone number if it’s subject to change. Also, include your social media links if you feel that they present you in a positive light.
Including a link to your LinkedIn profile can especially be beneficial – similarly, if you have an online portfolio or blog, include that as well. Remember, new connections may want to learn more about you before they contact you, give them a place to find that information if it’s available.
It’s important to also include your title, or field of study/interest. For example, if you work in the financial industry, make sure that you state that on your business card. Although you may be handing these out at networking events that are specifically for this industry, there may be times you aren’t, and it’ll be important that people know what your expertise are in.
- Basic contact info – name, email, and phone number
- Social media links – ensure they’re professional, like a twitter or LinkedIn account
- Professional website (if applicable) – online portfolio or blog
- Area of expertise – your title or field of study/interest
How to make them
There are several options available to help you make business cards easily. If you find an online printer, most have pre-made templates you can choose from and easily populate with your own information.
If you’re looking for something more original to you, reach out to a designer or design them yourself. Remember, it’s okay to invest some money in these, because even though your information may change, you can use a good business card template for years.
Another place to look for great business card designs is through Google Images. Search what sort of style you may be looking for and look through the samples and templates that appear, this is good for either inspiration to design your own cards, or there are often template you can download directly off websites. Just be sure you have permission to use the template from the original designer.
Keep in mind that the design of your business card should reflect your industry. If you are in a marketing, design, or in a creative field, be more creative with your design, if you are in finance or a more corporate industry, be more slick and professional.
When to use them
There’s nothing worse than ordering a bunch of new business cards and having them sit in your closet collecting dust. Bring some along with you for networking events, meetings with other professionals, school, or other events that you may run into someone that would be interested in reaching out to you.
A good tip when attending conferences or networking events: for each person that you meet, ask for their card. This will present an opportunity to presents yours to them and also shows that you are interested in speaking to them further down the road.
It’s always a good rule of thumb to just permanently keep a few business cards in each of your wallets or purses. This way, if an opportunity presents itself out of the blue, and you need a business card to give to someone, you’ll never be caught off guard.
Business card etiquette
When someone hands you their business card, there’s a few things to remember:
First off, when they hand it to you, hand them yours in return. Take a look at their card in front of them instead of just throwing it in your purse or pocket without acknowledging it.
Some people even like making little jot notes on each business card they receive so they can remember specifically who that person was and why you were going to reach out to them. This is a great tip especially if you are meeting a lot of people in one day.
Once you receive a business card from someone, don’t forget to follow up! Wait a few days and reach out to them via email and let them know how nice it was to meet them. This may be an opportunity to also set up another time to meet-up and talk further, or even provide the person more information about you, like sending along a portfolio. Don’t wait too long to send a follow-up. You want to remain fresh in your new connection’s mind so they don’t forget who you are.
Remember—you can’t take for granted that a connection will remember you, much less go out of their way to contact you. Even though we live in an evolving world of technology, having a business card is still critical to networking.