Your business card is a critical piece of your brand. It’s right up there with the suit you wear to your interview.
So often, I attend networking events where I meet new and interesting people. People I want to stay in touch with afterward.
Unfortunately, it can be tough to do. “Why?” you might ask. Well, not everyone has a business card. Or, more accurately, not everyone brings a business card.
The reason this happens can vary, but the two biggest excuses for not having one are: “I don’t have a job right now” and “I forgot.”
I’m not sure which is worse: being out of work, or being lazy. If you don’t have a job, take heart. It’s easy to create your own card. If you want to switch to a new profession, this applies to you too. Creating a new card is a great way to get people to think of you differently.
Of the cards I do receive, some are amazing — and we’ll talk about what you can learn from the amazing cards that will help you. Some cards on the other hand totally bomb. A bad card can make it almost as hard to follow up as no card at all.
Here are some of the common business card mistakes:
- Shiny paper – The person you give your card to will want to make a note on it about how they met you, or something you talked about. When you use shiny cards, you take away their opportunity to do this.
- Strangely shaped cards – Unusually shaped business cards can be fun – for about 10 seconds. After that, the person you’re giving your card to will try to put it in their wallet or business card holder. They’ll be left wondering what to do with it when your card doesn’t fit.
- Too much information – Keep your card simple and clean. Jamming your card full of information is only a good idea if it’s useful. And, chances are, if it’s filled with too much information, nobody will read it closely enough to know if it’s useful.
Truth be told, I met a number of very interesting people at a recent networking event. It’s what got me thinking about this topic. I collected a huge stack of business cards — all people I intend to follow up with.
But, when I went back to write notes on them and file the cards away, I ran into trouble. I couldn’t write on many of the cards because they were a dark color on both sides. Many were slick. And, most were so packed full of so much information, there was nowhere to write. I literally had to find one of those permanent “Sharpie” markers to write on these cards. And, on many, you can’t even see it!
So, what can you do to build a better business card? Here are ten tips of what to do:
- Do include your name, your phone number, and your e-mail address.
- Don’t add your picture – unless you are a realtor.
- Print them on U.S. sized paper. Pick the plain Jane rectangle shape.
- Use relatively neutral color. Bright pink or green cards, for example, are distracting.
- If you don’t have a job title, or if you want to change careers, leave out a job title.
- Don’t include a logo unless you are a graphic designer or have one on retainer.
- Don’t get too creative. This is a business card, not an art project.
- Leave space on the card where someone could take notes if they wanted to.
- Don’t get the free cards that have some company’s website listed on them. Your card should only advertise you. At most, business cards are about $50 for a box.
- Use an e-mail address that represents your personal brand well. An e-mail address that includes your favorite hobby, your birth year, or your nick name are not appropriate for a business card.
Here’s a sample of my business card. I hope it gives you a few ideas.
If you’ve decided to make a card, but aren’t sure where to get them, there are a number of great websites you can check out. I don’t advocate for one site or another, but my own cards are made with GotPrint.com. Moo.com also makes an excellent card if you want to go into sales or marketing. If you would like some in person assistance with your cards, check out a FedEx Office location. There are often people who will help you on site.
Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on iTunes and Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.