Business cards are still required — no one has come up with a new ‘wheel’ yet. Therefore, since no one has invented anything that truly replaces the business card, here are five good reasons why you should keep exchanging cards:
#1. It’s an easy way to share contact info quickly. Yes, we know you can type a person’s contact information into your phone while you are standing there or send them a request to immediately join you on LinkedIn. And this may be a good solution for people who have a real ‘thing’ about business cards (or forgot to bring them). But not everyone has an easy email address. Think of the first time someone said “airbnb” to you, did you have any idea how to spell it? You also miss lots of good info that is on a business card such as a person’s title, credentials, company logo, etc.
#2. It’s a cultural thing. In some cultures it’s a necessary part of the business interaction. In Japan there’s meishi. Make sure when you travel you know the rules of business engagement.
#3. It’s a way to start a conversation. If you have someone’s business card you can look at it and ask some questions based on what’s on their card. Way easier than pulling questions out of the air…. Bonus: if you forget the person’s name, look at their card.
#4. It’s a social grace. In business, giving your card out as part of your introduction says that you wish to engage, that you are willing to share your name and your contact information. What’s the opposite message? When you don’t give out your card or don’t carry cards you are sending a subliminal message—I don’t want to connect with you. Not a good way to start a relationship…
#5. The technology just isn’t there yet for those who want to ditch their business cards. There’s hope that we’ll be able to exchange contact information by NFC (near field communication) soon. There are some NFC products, such as a ring you wear or NFC paper that you can use for your business cards, but they are not ubiquitous by any means. So, be ready when there is a digital tool that works as well as the business card–come on, Apple!
-Gayle Hallgren-Rezac, Judy Thomson and Darcy Rezac, authors of Work The Pond! Shepa Learning Company
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