Do business cards have a future?

Business Card Holder

Do business cards have a future?

The business card is an introduction to people and is also a way of selling yourself. But in this digital age, how necessary is it?

How many times have you walked away from a conference or meeting with stacks of business cards from various people. Did you look at them later? Did they come in handy? In an age when you can look people up on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and when people are setting up blogs and web sites, the business card might be going the way of the typewriter and tape recorder. Or is it?

Writing on the Harvard Business Review blog Gina Trapani says the traditional card is irrelevant now. “It’s pretty simple: Google is the new business card,’’ Trapani writes. “Professionals who want to remain contactable, even as they hop jobs, want to stay high up in web search results. Updating a personal blog is the labour-intensive way to do this; setting up a LinkedIn or even a Facebook page can also get someone with a unique name high up in search results.”

But it isn’t just Google. The digital age has ushered in a period of personal branding on blogs and various social networking sites. Mark Glaser on the Mediashift site says personal brands on blogs and websites are now the way of the future. They are now the new business cards. Glaser writes: “At a time when people jump from job to job (or get laid off from job after job), personal branding is becoming more than just a hobby – it’s a necessity.”

Then again, maybe it’s just a case that the ordinary business card needs an overhaul. We are now in the attention economy, an age exploding with sources of information everywhere competing for people’s eyeballs. The business card might need to be changed to become more attention grabbing and relevant, something that just won’t be left at the bottom of a brief case or on the shelf.

As reported here, companies are already producing “digital business cards” which work as digital billboards containing all sorts of information about the user with features like “info” and “contact” popping up with a single click. They can also be embedded anywhere on the web so people are able to market themselves to high traffic sites.

An alternative is that allows you to create an online card. These “cards” can be integrated into various social networks or embedded on your website. The rotorblog gives a good explanation of how they work.

It looks pretty good but as Peter Smith writes in IT World there is one little problem. As he says: “The downside is that none of this information is confirmed in any way, so you could list someone else’s social media profile as your own (either intentionally or via mis-typing).”

That’s why I suspect business cards are not going to go away. People will still be handing them out at meetings, conferences and dinners. So what should an old-style business card look like in this day and age? The freelanceuk website offers tips for making cards as memorable as possible. Maybe they need more than just contact information. Perhaps they need something that sells you.

Do you think business cards should change? What makes a memorable business card? How many do you get? Do they come in use? Or do you just use them to pick your teeth?


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