So, the first question is: Who needs business cards? The second is: When should you carry your business cards with you?
The answers are: everyone and everywhere.
Two groups of people look at me cross-eyed when I say this—students and the recently retired. So I have a few recommendations for both.
Students: If you are looking for a job or an internship, how is your potential employer going to get your contact information so they can offer you a job if you don’t have a business card? They are not going to write it down. And they may not want you to text it to them as that would mean giving you their cell phone number.
Recently retired: It cracks me up when I ask you for your business card, and you look at me like I’m crazy, and say, “But I‘m retired. I don’t need a business card.” How are people going to reach you? We don’t have your personal cell phone number or email address because we’ve only used your work contact info, even though we’ve become personal friends.
Both of you: Order yourself a stack of business cards. Vista Print has business cards for just $10. You can also pop by your local office supply store or even Costco. (Students: If you want something with more creative flare, try Moo.)
Make sure the font is easy to read. Include your cell phone number and email address. Students don’t need to include a mailing address, but the recently retired should.
And both groups need to have a respectable Gmail address like email@example.com or something that matches your professional personal brand. You can have that email address forwarded to your current, not so professional, email address if you don’t want to give up your old accounts. (Students: Definitely let go of your SoccerSux@hotmail.com or QTPie1994@CableProvider.com type of email addresses.)
Another email address option is a forwarding address offered by your college. Many offer one free so you can put firstname.lastname@example.org on your card with pride.
And, yes, take your business cards everywhere.
I cannot tell you how many times in the last month I have been at a social event, or even a work event, and I’ve met someone I want to be in touch with. You wouldn’t believe how often I’ve heard: “Oh, crap. I don’t have my business cards on me!” So I give them my card and they promise to send me their contact information, which they do about 50 percent of the time.
Just imagine: You are at a social event and you meet someone who would be a great contact for your next career move, for your business network, or who could support a charity that you love. And, oops, you don’t have any business cards on you. How disappointed would you be to miss that connection?
I always have at least three to four business cards in my wallet and in just about every bag I use—even a tiny evening clutch. Keep a few in your cell phone case. Leave some in your car. These cards have never failed to come in handy. You never know when you will meet someone interesting!
Next time you are getting ready to leave your house for anything, even a grocery run, check your wallet for business cards. You will thank me later.