Let’s Talk Business Cards: Digital or Print?

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Reading Time: 4 minutes 

A frequently asked question I hear when I’m training and speaking on networking:

Do people still use business cards?

The answer is that some do and some don’t.

The next question invariably leads to should they be print or digital business cards?

So this is what I’m exploring in this week’s blog, let’s talk business cards: digital or print.

And then this question leads to the question of follow up and what to do with the business cards that are collected.

Everyone is going to have their own opinion and ideas on this.  I’m going to share mine and you can take from it what serves you!

Let’s take each question separately:

Do People Still Use Business Cards?

In my opinion not enough people are using business cards, whether these are digital or print.   If you go to a networking event and have substantial conversations with people, how do you know who to follow up with if you aren’t sharing information?

Some will then jump in and say, ‘well I connected with them on Linkedin at the event‘.

Great start, but my questions are then:

  1. Did you personalise the invite or just press connect?
  2. Did you tell the person and remind them where you met them?
  3. What call to action and follow up did you instigate with the connection?

SOOOOOOO many people simply press ‘connect’ on Linkedin. And then the contact goes into a big black vortex of contacts with zero context, never to be seen again.  So what is the point?

Unless you know the person well, when you press ‘connect’ all you are doing is collecting contacts…and that doesn’t serve a purpose as you have not built up any relationships.

Should Business Cards be Printed or Digital?

I will tell you I have both and here are my thoughts.

A physical business cards brings with it intention.

Intention to give, intention to receive, intention to follow up…intention in a way that simply doesn’t happen with the digital business cards.

Ask yourself these questions:

When you have a digital business card

  1. Does the other person?

2. Where is the information going?

3. Where is it stored?

4. Are you putting notes with it to direct your follow up?

5. Is the information feeding into your CRM system?

6. How do you identify where you met the person to build on the connection?

For me the digital landscape is still not developed enough to get the traction needed.  All the ‘other’ systems are not sufficiently in place for most of the business owners I meet and most business owners don’t have a digital business card in order to be able to reciprocate.

Here is the value I see in printed cards.

  1. You can write on them

2. Make a note if the person is a member/non-member of a group

3. Note where you met the person

4. Jot down elements of conversation & interests

5. Note specific follow up

Some More Tips When You Are Getting Business Cards

Do not get business cards printed in black – they generally look great, but you can’t write on them and take all the notes I mention above.

Do not laminate your business cards. Again, you can’t write on them.

Do have a picture.  It amazes me how few people invest in a good headshot and then use their photo on their card. It’s a simple way to make yourself memorable.

Do have lots of white space on the card as it allows for notetaking and this is needed as the aide memoire for follow up.

Do use the back of the card to tell people more about your business, your value, product or service. The first thing people do is turn to the back of the card, before looking at the front!

Do have a physical old school business card holder and file the printed business cards for future use.

Old fashioned – yes.

More effective – yes.

Here’s why I make this suggestion. When I started networking, I’d collect my business cards. I’d send emails in follow up and make Linkedin connections with people I was meeting.  And then I would throw the business cards out, as it felt like ‘stuff’.

And then I realised, if I can’t remember the name of a person, but I know I’ve met someone who can connect with someone else to offer a solution or solve a problem, I can’t find this person on Linkedin as I can’t remember the name of the person!  I might remember where I met them, what they do, my impression of them…and be missing the vital piece of information which is the name.

I can’t put in ’30 year old male with beard’ and come up with any good answers to find the person…and that’s why I went back to keeping the business cards.

As I build up relationships, I never know when I am going to be able to help someone or make connections to add value to other people.

Here’s another question to ask.

Should I use the Linkedin ‘connect with everyone in the room’ facility to connect with everyone at an event?

My answer is no. Please don’t.  Connecting with everyone at an event is useless.  All you are doing is collecting contacts, with no context and no ability to build a relationship, because you’ve no idea why you’re connected with the person.

Make your connections meaningful. Make your connections matter.  That’s the start of building up true relationships.

In Conclusion

Having printed business cards makes for more effective networking.  And I realise that people will come back with efficiency, sustainability, everything is going digital etc as counter arguments, but here’s the thing…

Do you want your networking to be efficient or effective?

I’m going to vote with effective EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.


Connecting With Jean

You can reach out to me at hello@networkingjean.ie.

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Jean Evans
Jean Evans is an expert on all things networking. It is her passion, and one that is borne out of experience and plenty of trial and error, mistakes and mishaps. Through her blogs and social media channels, Jean shares tips, tricks, hacks and ideas on how to become an effective networker in business.

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