While at an event last night I was asked for my business card. I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t have one. Should I be embarrassed? Is a business card still a prerequisite for business interaction?
The debate is vigorous. “Business Cards Are Dead – Here’s Why” declares J. Maureen Henderson in an August 22, 2014, Forbes.com posting.
Jonathan Long counters with “5 Reasons Business Cards Still Matter” in a March 30, 2015, Entrepreneur posting.
Business cards have gotten a bad rap over the past few years. Aside from the newness of electronic cards and social media accounts, too many people for too many years spewed their cards like confetti in a ticker-tape parade.
Perhaps the biggest reason cards are falling out of favor is they seem to pile up on our desks. We get cards but don’t follow up. If this is what we do with the cards we get, imagine what others do with our cards. Why bother?
Still, there I sat at an event being asked for my card and I didn’t have one. So regardless of which side of the argument you land, in this particular case, I needed one.
The best reason to have a card with you at all times is it gives you permission to ask for a card from someone else. This can be a life-saver if you find yourself in a conversation you wish to end. Asking for a card can be the perfect segue into a conversation ending phrase like, “It was nice meeting you”.
I recommend you never offer your card first. But if you are asked for yours you should always ask for theirs. If you don’t have one when they ask it will be awkward to ask for one back.
If you still need more proof, here are a few more reasons to always have a professional business card with you (a personal card of your own by the way, not someone else’s).
1. People still ask for them and without one, you appear to be unprepared. There’s simply no way to overcome a bad first impression.
2. While younger people may not value them, older people and those from other countries do. It is important to remember everyone does not follow the same standards you do. You need to be sensitive to the expectations of others.
3. You can write notes on your card that will be a reminder of where you met or a prompt to follow up. Familiarity breaks the ice and often leads to follow up.
4. A professional card permits you to provide added detail about your business. You can add testimonials, social media links, slogans and more to your card to further market you and your business.
5. People rarely throw business cards away. That means your card will remain with your prospect or contact for a very long time.
So yes, you still need a business card and it should be a good one. Skip the freebies and home printed ones and spend a few marketing dollars on one that is professionally crafted to match your brand. And if you don’t have a cohesive brand, this is a great place to start.
So, what did I do when I found myself unprepared? I told the truth. I didn’t make up some better-than-everyone-else story about how I don’t carry cards or they’re bad for the environment. I confessed. And then I did the next best thing. I pulled out my phone, asked for his information, and promised I’d follow up.