Business Contacts? They’re in the Cards

By Greta Schulz

If you are in business, you have received probably hundreds—if not thousands—of business cards over the years. Are they important? Yes … and no.

For the purpose of using them to find information about someone you have met and are attempting to reconnect with, the card has purpose. Unfortunately, the way to use the card never really has been defined. So I am going to help out those who slap a card together and think it’s just fine—even when it’s basically useless.

In January, the Wall Street Journal included me in a story about business cards, in which I said they can help start conversations. Frequently, though, I see a few things on them that make me scratch my head.

• One of the most important things on your business card is your email address. Make sure it’s legible enough to read. One hard-to-read letter will throw off the entire address.

• A fax number? Really? Will this document fax to 1993? Stop putting that on there. If someone really needs your fax number, they will ask you at the time they need it. They will not go back to your business card to look it up, I promise you.

• If you want to be seen as a legitimate business person, have an email address associated with your website. If you don’t have that, ask your website host for one. Don’t use a Comcast, Gmail or — heaven forbid — an AOL address.

• Don’t buy the cheapest card you can find. No, the business card doesn’t sell for you, but it will tell a story. “I am really cheap so I use flimsy paper” is not the story you want to tell.

• Make sure it can be scanned easily. Most people now scan business cards into their smartphones, and if your font is ornate and illegible, it will not scan well. Keep it clean.

• Use both sides of the card. That real estate should be used to help identify what you do. Not a dissertation, but a few bulletpoints—quick and easy.

• Don’t laminate the card or choose a slick surface. It’s just not necessary. And, some people like to take notes on your card, so let them.

Your business card is good to help give out information, but it is not a quantity game at a networking event, where you give away lots of cards and hope the phone will ring. And please don’t collect cards and start barraging people simply because you got their contact information. If you have a newsletter, blog or something they might find useful, ask them if they would be interested in receiving it. ♦

Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business, a sales consulting and training firm. She is the best-selling author of “To Sell is NOT to Sell” and works with Fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurs. For more information or free sales tips, go to schulzbusiness.com and sign up for “GretaNomics,” a weekly video tip series, or email sales questions to [email protected]

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