Many millennials say that business cards are dead because we have apps, SNS, etc. They say millennials don’t trust traditional advertising and old ways of doing business, including business cards. Well, as a millennial, I say business cards may seem a bit old-fashioned, but by calling them dead we’re missing out on a huge number of opportunities. This is something I learned early on in my career.
Millennials still need business cards because:
- They’re convenient and fast, while showing your style.
- They’re more accurate than anything else, if you put the right info on them.
- They can be digitized to build a personal network.
- Social media can’t replace them, only complement them.
- Great for handing out during impromptu meetings.
Let’s dig into the value of business cards in more detail. We’ll also look at what you need to put on your cards to make them most effective.
Business cards are simple, convenient and show your style
Exchanging business cards remains the most straightforward way to let other people know about you.
It’s true that most of us are using social media, social networking (SNS) and other apps to communicate. And while that’s true, there are two big problems here: (1) an SNS mixes your personal and business contacts and (2) swapping accounts via SNS is clumsy and unprofessional.
We’ll get to #1 further down. As for #2, first, you have to unlock your phone, then open the app, push the profile button, and tell someone your ID or show your QR code. Then they have to search for your account, add you, deal with any security blocks, might confuse you with someone else with the same name, etc.
Compare this hassle with smoothly whipping out your card, the other person doing the same, and you continue your conversation. It’s a timeless and classy maneuver.
Business cards are accurate and contain valuable data
Compared with social networks, business cards are also way more accurate. And that includes LinkedIn, which in most places is the de facto business SNS. Think about it: does your business card have your name misspelled or the wrong email address? If it does, get some new cards!
Even if you have a company-issued card, it’s good to have your own for instances where you meet someone who is a possible business contact unrelated to your main employer (such as for a side hustle like a blog or another opportunity).
What to put on your business card:
- Name: Put your first name, middle initial (optional), and last name
- Company name: Only if you have one; if not, you can leave it off
- Job title: or the type of work you do
- Email: Don’t use something cute or personal. Just get a Gmail account with your name, or your first initial and your name.
- Mobile phone: Leave this off if you’re worried about privacy.
- Website URL: Your own company’s or your personal page or portfolio.
- LinkedIn handle: and any other handles for your business-related social accounts. If your Facebook or Instagram are part of your business, put them as well. If not, leave them off.
Optional elements include a logo, a QR code to your page, a photo, and second language translation on the reverse side of the card (we do this in Japan quite often).
Not only the information but also the design of the card is the key. Get a decent design too, because 39% of people don’t want to do business with someone with cheap-looking business cards.
Business cards with a simple and polished design give people a credible impression and all the necessary information to get in touch with you in multiple ways.
Start building your digitized network
We millennials, by virtue of our age and that we’re earlier in their careers, have limitless chances to start building connections from the get-go. This means we can collect a ton of business cards and contacts.
But we’re also environmentally conscious and we don’t want all that paper. So use a scanning app to turn them into data and visualize them. The best apps let you digitize them accurately in a couple of clicks. Then you can recycle the paper. Or you can just digitize cards on the spot and give them back to the owner.
It’s shocking that 88% of business cards get thrown away in less than a week. Such a waste! Every business card exchange is permission to do business. Even if you can’t do business with this person, someone you know may be the perfect business partner for them.
A tool like Sansan is designed for companies and teams to centralize and share contacts after scanning and digitizing. This leads to sharing and what we call “internal referrals,” or warm introductions.
So, while we’re out meeting people and getting cards, we’re building our own network, and we may help deliver someone their next big deal.
Social media is a complement, not a substitute
Finally, let’s put an end to this idea that social media has somehow replaced the business card. Well, when you put a new business card contact in your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you’ve lumped them with your friends, family, and the random people you’ve added. Do you really want a business contact seeing your party pics and what you ate for lunch yesterday?
Yes, LinkedIn is better because it’s dedicated to business, but again, your contacts are lumped in with hundreds or thousands of others. A business card entered into a dedicated contact management app CMS or a CRM is specifically put to business use. You can track and manage this contact like a professional.
Business cards contain the essential information for doing business. Digitize them and you’ve got your network in one place.
Use a specialized cloud-based business platform and you can scan and record when you meet people.
Keep these valuable contacts off your Facebook friends list.
Millennials are getting a lot of negative press, but we’re a savvy bunch with great potential. If we can learn to embrace “old-school” business practices that are still valuable, then we’re really looking at a profitable future.
By exchanging business cards with people of all ages, we’re showing our class and efficiency, and we’re building a business network we can take with us for decades, and use to help others.
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