Business Card Tips for Sales and Networking
Business cards are one of the cheapest, easiest and most effective marketing tools. They're like little billboards and brochures! Here are some business card tips for using them effectively in sales and networking...
Not Working at Networking
At networking events, I usually meet up with some folks I might want to connect with afterward. So I typically ask them for a business card when I give them one of mine. Here are some responses I occasionally get:
- I don't have any on me.
- I'm waiting for new cards.
- Here, let me put my information on my boss' card (or some other non-related card they dig—and I do mean "dig"—out of a purse, wallet or pocket).
What? These people are going to an event designed for networking and don't have any business cards on them? Are they not planning on making any contacts for sales or other opportunities?
Okay, I'll cut these folks a bit of slack since many chamber of commerce and networking group events are primarily attended by familiar faces. So they may not be expecting to meet anyone new. But in my experience, there are usually a few new folks at every event. So I almost always carry about 20 to 50 business cards on me.
Business Card Tips for Networking:
- Bring Enough. Always carry a supply of business cards wherever you go, especially to networking events! Depending on the event and its activities, that supply could be 20, 50 or more.
- Wear or Carry Something with Pockets. A networking event is a performance art! Have a supply of business cards easily accessible to quickly and smoothly draw out a card to give. Keeping them ready in a jacket, slacks, skirt, or bag pocket makes it easy. Might even want to practice to make it a natural movement. No digging around in a bag or wallet!
Standard Business Card Size and Why to Use It
In case you're curious about what the standard business card size is, it is 3-1/2 inches wide by 2 inches high for horizontal or landscape orientation. For vertical or portrait orientation, it is 2 inches wide by 3-1/2 inches high.
In marketing, using odd size marketing materials can gain attention. But when it comes to business cards, stick with the standard size. Why? Though today people often enter the info from business cards electronically and then pitch the actual card, there are many who do still retain cards as backups. (Confession: I still use my business card files all the time!) Non-standard cards don't fit in any standard size storage containers or folders.
Here's an example of what happens when an odd size card is used.
A graphic designer I met once wanted to show how cool and creative she was. So, if I remember right, her business card was around 5 to 6 inches wide by 2-1/2 inches high. It was beautiful. However, I didn't know what to do with it. It didn't fit in any business card file I have. So I folded the darn thing to try to make it fit. It didn't. So then I resorted to trying to cut the card to fit. Let's see, should I cut off her business name or her contact info? After a few minutes of deciding what to do with it—and deciding that I wouldn't be needing services from her anytime soon—I put it in a container in which it would fit: the recycle bin.
Business Card Tips for Printing:
- Use Standard Business Card Size. Fit your information within the 3-1/2 inches by 2 inches standard size limit (horizontal or vertical). It will cost less since special size cuts and papers can get expensive. As well, people will be more apt to file it away instead of throw it away. Use the size limitation to get creative.
- Go Matte or Flat. Make sure that at least one side of the card does NOT include gloss or varnish coating to allow for people to write notes on it while networking.
- Get Real. While it's tempting to print cards at home, they always look like they were printed at home. Many business cards available online are so cheap with good quality that it doesn't even pay to print them at home, especially when the cost of the special printer papers and ink cartridges is factored in.
- Color Your World. Because full color printing is getting so cheap, there is little reason to stick with vanilla black-and-white business cards. Plus, color builds your brand!
- Use Magnetic Business Cards Only Where Relevant. Only use magnetic business cards if the type of business demands it (home, on-demand or frequently used services could be candidates for them). With fewer magnetic surfaces available in homes and offices, magnetic cards are less useful than in the past.
Why You May (or May Not) Want to Put Your Phone Number on Your Business Cards
I don't put my phone number on my business cards. Shocked that someone in sales would do that? I have my reasons. And, yes, they do deal with how I sell.
Years ago when I was doing some heavy networking, I put my phone number on my business cards and handed them out in stacks. It got me lots of phone calls, but not the ones I wanted.
Every person who wanted to sell to me decided that cold calling me on the phone was a good idea. Plus, there were the brain pickers and crackpots. They would phone me asking for marketing advice (for free, of course). Then there were those who wanted me to play therapist (again for free) on every imaginable business problem. Or they just wanted to rant about this topic or that.
It all amounted to a huge waste of my time. And since much of my work requires a significant amount of focus and concentration, I don't need calls from those who want my money, advice or attention without my consent. I cannot imagine ANY scenario where my writing or speaking services would require a phone call for emergency service.
I handle phone calls the same way I handle in-person meetings which is by appointment. My sales funnel is designed to filter out those who absolutely cannot put into an email a few words about what their issues or needs are. That's a clear signal they don't know or understand what they're buying and could be problem clients.
HOWEVER ... there are many businesses where a phone number is absolutely essential on a business card. Plumbing, heating, towing, ambulance, and urgent healthcare centers would be prime examples of those that need it included. Any business that provides emergency help or is set up to handle telephone sales would need a phone number on a card. For these folks, email might be the contact info they eliminate!
Business Card Tips for Contact Info:
- Consider Your Sales Funnel. Do you want business to come to you by phone, email, Internet or by people wandering into a brick-and-mortar location? Let your sales funnel(s) guide what contact information elements should be included or given prominence on the card.
- Not at Home. For home-based businesses that do not want people stopping by, including a physical address can present a host of annoyance, privacy and security issues. Use a post office box or eliminate the physical address entirely. Also consider using separate business phone lines for similar security and privacy reasons.
Why I Use My Photo on My Business Cards, But Why You Might NOT Want To
Because I'm a speaker and author, and I want people I meet to remember me, I use my photo on my speaking business cards. This has been an amazing sales and networking tactic for me. When I attend subsequent events, people can usually remember who I am. Why? Because they can put a face with a name.
As well, it fosters a feeling of trust for customers who know there's a real person behind the name. That's why businesses such as real estate and insurance often use their photos on business cards.
But this tactic isn't for everyone. Those who feel that having their photo and contact info together out in public presents a security risk should not do it.
For those whose insecurity is more about being self conscious and embarrassed, using a photo on the business card could cause them to refrain from handing out any cards, thereby reducing sales and opportunities.
Business Card Tips for Photos:
- Let Emotional and Security Needs Guide Photo Decisions. If including a photo presents a safety or emotional security risk, don't use it!
- Face It. If security issues are not a problem and the recognition factor is desired, using a headshot on a business card can be a great networking tool.
What About Electronic Business Cards?
Confession: A few years ago, I predicted the eventual demise of the standard paper business card. I was wrong. But why did I make that prediction?
About 2008 or so, social media and mobile technology was exploding. We were using social media to make connections even when in person. We were bumping mobile phones to exchange data. The era of seamless electronic data exchange seemed to be upon us. So why are we still exchanging little slips of paper?
Social media is a chaotic universe. It changes almost every day. Plus, there are so many networks and not everyone is on every one. Mobile tech is evolving faster than we can almost keep up. The ways that these devices communicate with one another changes frequently, too. And not everyone has the latest tech. Plus, if transfer of data requires wi-fi, ability to connect will depend on the strength of the signals. So making connections electronically while in person is still a challenge.
Business Card Tips for Today's Networking Environment:
- Go New School AND Old School. Stay mindful of and experiment with new tech and trends for exchanging information, but ALWAYS have business cards ready to make a connection no matter what!
Disclaimer: Any examples used are for illustrative purposes only and do not suggest affiliation or endorsement. The author/publisher has used best efforts in preparation of this article. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and all parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice, strategies and recommendations presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional adviser where and when appropriate. The author/publisher shall not be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. So by reading and using this information, you accept this risk.
Questions & Answers
© 2014 Heidi Thorne