In our digital age, is the paper business card just a retro collector’s item? Has it been replaced by things like LinkedIn profiles and cards with virtual holograms? For now – it seems – the traditional calling card is unlikely to die out; it often is still the only physical memento of a business meeting.
According to estimates by Adobe, 88% of the business cards you give out will end up in the trash (or at best in the recycling bin) within a week. So why press to present them, when we all have LinkedIn and all our contacts inside our phones and email?
Because you can still very easily end up offline. And what’s more, as etiquette guru Ladislav Špaček points out: “Handing someone a business card is not a meaningless gesture. In Japan, for example, it is a major ceremony.”
“The more virtual our current age is, the more important personal meetings are, and the more important it is to make a good impression face-to-face. Starting out, nearly every single meeting decides on whether you’ll be successful and profitable, especially for small companies,” believes Richard Moross, who founded MOO.com (the leader in business-card printing on the British market) back in 2004.
The Holy Tetrad
Business cards’ proponents most often present four key arguments for remaining true to these little paper cards in the digital age:
1/ A business card is a key networking tool and a powerful icebreaker.
2/ It’s an effective element for direct or personal marketing. Try leaving your business cards in the business salon at an airport, in an appropriate place at a trade fair, at a company’s reception… or even at a bar, if you know that companies that interest you have their offices nearby.
3/ A business card is an inseparable part of a first impression, and it represents your firm.
4/ Simultaneously, by presenting a card, you’re showing that you’re always alert and prepared. (But don’t forget that business cards aren’t Pokémons – you don’t have to catch them all!)
VIDEO: How Will Technology Change the Future of Business Cards?
Cards Gone Hi-tech
To keep your cards from feeling as old-fashioned as the words “calling cards,” why not try an upgrade? You can have a QR code printed on your cards, or upload your contacts directly to an imprinted NFC chip. Meanwhile, when you’re on a card’s receiving end, scan it as soon as possible into the contacts on your phone using an application such as ABBYY or CamCard.
Joseph Flynt of 3D Insider predicts that in the future, business cards will be printed on 3D printers to make them unique and maximally customizable.
And the British digital printer Instaprint has found the courage to go even further in its visions: they believe that business cards could one day become interactive, with a small touch display, or even show contact information in the form of holograms.
From Hand to Hand
The young consulting company JuiceUp swears by business cards as well. JuiceUp helps companies to improve employee productivity and intra-company relationships. “Even though we’re fans of innovations and modern technologies, I always prefer personal meetings. For me, business cards symbolize these; they’re always exchanged from hand to hand, with no exceptions. And for me they reveal a little something at that moment about the person I’m meeting,” explains JuiceUp’s founder Ivo Hrdina.
He considers a team profile on LinkedIn to be another must-have element of a company’s self-presentation alongside business cards. He sees these profiles as an important extension of a company’s self-presentation and of its brand.
People working in HR will readily confirm that they primarily use LinkedIn as a search engine and a “maintainer” for contacts. It’s simpler than leafing through hundreds of business cards, which moreover only reveal your name, your role, and your graphical taste.