Business Cards From Hell

I went to a business networking meeting recently and met some new people as well as mingled with existing acquaintances.  Networking events and business card exchanges, if done properly, are a great way to begin the prospecting and referral part of your marketing efforts.

But what always surprises me is the often useless and just plain horrible use of business cards by business owners themselves.

I consider business cards to be Networking 101.  They are the basic, entry level requirement for starting your relationship with prospects and clients.  They are the toe of the foot in the door for making a first impression about you and your business.  Yet I’m constantly surprised at how all over the map business cards are in terms of quality or the basic information they should provide.

Case in point, I actually got a card from a guy at a recent event for a display and graphics company.  Later, when I went to follow up, thinking we might have some synergies for doing business together, I looked at the card and lo and behold, there’s no name on the card!  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Everything but a name!  Should I just call the company and ask for “the guy who I met last night?” I don’t think so.  Into the circular file with that one.  Opportunity lost.

So, to that end, here are my VERY basic tips for having an effective business card:

  1. Yes,  put your name on the card;  We might have had a memorable conversation but I’m really bad with names.  Help a guy out.
  2. Complete mailing address;  why would you not have this? Are you ashamed that you work from home (you shouldn’t be);  are you ducking the Feds?  What?!
  3. Put your phone number that most increases the likelihood of you being reached.  If that’s your cell phone, fine.  Whatever.  If you’re going to networking meetings of any kind and meeting people and handing out your cards, guess what?  YOU’RE IN SALES!  You WANT people to be able to EASILY get in touch with you.  At least you should.  Otherwise, stay home!
  4. Make the card easy to read.  Sounds like common sense, but really tiny type in bizarro fonts with busy backgrounds is not creative — it’s just annoying.
  5. No strange shapes and sizes, cards made out of crepe paper or that are triangular or shaped like a giraffe just won’t fit into my wallet, card scanner or business card holder.  Please keep them standard sizes.  I want to remember you, the person, not how odd your card was.
  6. Invest the $9.99 to have the words “Vista Print” removed from the back of your free cards.  If you’re not willing to invest at least that much in your own business, why should someone else?

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