When it comes to business cards I guess I can best be described as strictly “old school”. It seems with ever increasing regularity I am getting what I would describe as “new age” business cards. I think the only thing missing from some of them are pyramids or crystals, in the attempt to grab my attention and differentiate one business card from another. I understand the idea but I find it more humorous than professional, and hence more forgettable, which I think is the opposite of the business cards intent.
When was the last time you actually read a business card? In the US we have a tendency to swap cards at a meeting, casually glance at the card we have received and then tuck it in our pocket so that we can be sure to add it to the rubber band bound deck of business cards we keep in our desk drawer at the office. In some parts of the world a business card is presented with both hands, face up and oriented so that the person receiving the card can immediately read it. If you are presented a business card in such a manner and don’t take the time to read the card with the intensity associated with reading the latest Pulitzer prize winning novel, then don’t expect a fully successful meeting. You may have insulted the person who presented you the card.
This process may delay the actual start of a meeting by as much as ten seconds, but I like it and would like to see it more in the US. It demonstrates respect for the information that the person has provided you to start the meeting and by extension the information that they will provide you during the meeting.
Like I said old school.
Increasingly it seems I am getting business cards that remind me of miniature birthday cards. They now come in all sorts of colors. I think this is done in the hopes that by presenting a colorful business, it will make the presenter more memorable. I don’t remember who gives me a colorful business card. I just remember the color. He gave me a red card, or she gave me a blue one. I don’t think that was the objective, but it is the result. They now also appear to come in oversized or even folded formats. This is especially disruptive to my business card filing system as the rubber bands have a tendency to cut in and dog-ear the edges of these cards.
It is the content of the business card that is important.
The company name and logo should clearly prominent across the top of the card. If I forget your name, chances are I will remember the company and search for the card in that manner. If I can’t easily locate the company name on the card it will probably not see the light of day again.
Utilize a landscape as opposed to a portrait orientation to the business card. I have a tendency to hurt my neck as I try to turn my head sideways when I try to read improperly oriented cards. I guess I could just rotate the card ninety degrees, but that would be a little too weird for me.
Put your name in a little larger and bold font. I want to be able to locate it quickly. Put your title and area of responsibility directly below your name so that they can easily be associated. Remember to keep your title short. It would appear that people want to believe that the longer and more detailed their title, the more important they sound. This is the opposite of what is the case. The really important people seem to have titles that are one to three words long. If your title has to be reread multiple times to decipher what it is that you actually do, the chances are that your business card will be dismissed, not remembered.
The back of the business card presents an interesting situation. Simple, clean and blank is always good. I am finding myself coming around to the idea of the corporate web site or URL on the back is good as well, and even perhaps an email address. If you deal in multilingual markets, having all the business card information in the language of the market on the reverse side of a business card is very good as well. Superfluous information, catch phrases or other personal customizations detract from the card far more than they help.
I once received a card from a lady with a picture of her head on the back. Nothing else, just her smiling face. I asked her why she did that. She said she wanted people to remember her card. I don’t remember her name, what she did, why we met, or who she worked for, but I do remember her card. I guess it worked, sort of.
In returning to my earlier foreign business card example, businessmen in some parts of the world treat their own and each other’s business cards with respect. They are used as an integral part of conducting business meetings. Here in the US we now seem content to utilize our business cards for not much else other than to drop them in a bowl at the cash register where we eat lunch in the hopes that it may be drawn and we receive a free lunch next week. Maybe the reason for the proliferation of all the new business card colors, sizes and formats is not for business purposes, but really for no other reason than to increase the chances of those cards being drawn for the free lunch.
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Stephen Gobeli; Entrepreneur – President at EarZin LLC “Better, More Affordable Hearing”, Instructor International Business at the University of Phoenix, General Manager – Managed Network Services at Alcatel-Lucent Inc. Blog: www.stephengobeli.com Linkedin Page: LinkedIn.com/in/srgobeli