We’ve all been there: After chatting with someone at an event, you take their business card, stick it in your bag or pocket and then forget about it.
Weeks or months later you stumble across their business card and try desperately to remember who that person was. After a few seconds, having failed to remember them, you decide to just file that business card or throw it in the bin.
So how effective are business cards? Most of the time, not at all.
There must be a better way to ‘do’ business cards to ensure that they deliver results. I believe there is.
A simple question
While designing my own business cards recently I asked myself this question: What is a business card for? I came up with this list:
- To tell people what I do.
- To provide my contact details.
- To remind people about me.
- To connect.
It was the final one in the list that caught my eye: To connect. And that got me thinking about the word ‘card’ in business card.
Normally when we give someone a card – like a birthday or get-well card – it includes a personal message, right? Something that connects us to the person in question. Something unique or meaningful between us.
Why not do the same with our business cards?
Space to connect
So I designed my cards with a blank space on the back where I can hand write a personal note to the person I’m giving it to. Before offering someone my card, I write a short message in that space recalling something specific, interesting or amusing about the conversation we just had. And perhaps suggesting it would be good to connect again or work together.
Treating a business card more like a greeting card makes it less about ‘me’ and more about ‘us’. It changes the implied message in the business card from ‘look at me’ to ‘hey, we connected’.
I also have normal business cards without the blank space, in case I haven’t had enough time to talk to someone and – as a result – I cannot write a genuine, individualised note. If I cannot write a meaningful message, it’s better not to pretend. I also use these normal cards for when the person I’m giving a card to is in a rush and can’t wait for me to write a note.
But on the whole, I prefer using the ones I can write on.
When I meet someone and talk to them, I feel like that’s a special moment. One that can never be repeated. It’s good to mark that moment of connection with a card.
Hopefully when they pull out my card in a few weeks or months and see my hand-written note on the back and my face on the front, instead of filing it away they might remember me and what I’m trying to do with values-based communications and then call me or shoot me an email.
Then we can reconnect and hopefully work together on making powerful, positive differences for people.
If I get to do real-world values-based communications with a client as a result of a personal connection we made on the back of my business card, then that card is working for me and achieving results.
That’s a business card that means business.
I’m not sure if other people have already thought of this idea for using business cards as greeting cards. If they have, great! But if you’re coming across this innovation for the first time here and you like the idea please just take it and use it – apply it to your own cards.
I ask only two small things in return
- Tell me about your own experiences doing this. Did it work for you?
- Say to tell people that you got this idea from me and maybe even direct them to my website.