Who needs business cards these days? You do.

These days, your personal brand relies heavily on your digital presence, but be careful about shifting 100% to the digital realm when it comes to advancing in your career. Don’t give up on those trusty little cards just yet.

Business cards are indeed still effective, and they can really come in handy. Think about this. You make a connection at a conference, and you want to keep in touch. Do you go online right then and there and make the LinkedIn connection? Awkward, right? Instead of pulling out your phone and scrolling through LinkedIn profiles mid-conversation, simply hand your new contact your effective business card and do all the follow up work later. This will save time and comes across as much more professional.

That’s not enough to convince you to order a new set of business cards? Maybe these business card tips will give you more incentive.

Still respected…and expected.

You just met a VP of Marketing who just so happens to work for your dream employer and has direct connections to positions you’re interested in. If you whip out that smart phone and ask for their email address, you’ll lose points immediately. Business cards are still the expected and most respected method of sharing contact info during in-person meetings, so don’t disappoint and look like a fool.

Accuracy of information.

If you’ve ever been in a situation where you’re trying to type someone’s email address into your phone during a conversation, you know it doesn’t always go smoothly.

“How do you spell that?”

“Is there a dot in between your first and last name?”

All kinds of questions can arise, and you or the other party can easily slip up and type something incorrectly (hello, autocorrect). If that happens, your chances of keeping in touch significantly decline. If the person you just met doesn’t have accurate contact info for you, they aren’t likely to go out of their way to find you. Effective business cards eliminate this problem, as they contain accurate and up-to-date contact info, proper spelling and all.

Showcase your personality.

You’d be surprised how much personality you can fit into that little 3.5” x 2” rectangle. One of my best business card tips is that I caution against using the basic, no frills template. You know these. They’re the ones that business card websites offer for free or really cheap to lure you in.

Take the time to showcase your personality rather than accept the minimum. Add your company logo or a graphic that represents you. Whatever you add, just make sure it represents you and it adds aesthetic value. Your personal brand will thank you.

Affordable direct marketing.

Business cards are relatively affordable compared to a lot of direct marketing collateral. Think of them as a sort of tiny brochure. You hand them out at conferences, during meetings and to people you connect with by chance. They can contain a brief message about you that states who you are and what you do, along with the traditional contact info to help someone get in touch.

So, how exactly do you craft a business card, then?

Great question! I’m glad you asked (or you at least knew you wanted to). There are a number of things you need to consider when crafting an effective business card. Here are just a few.

Necessary info.

You want to exercise caution here. Too much info can make a card look sloppy, while too little can leave you looking unprofessional. In order to avoid this, here are some business card guidelines:

  • Name and title

  • Company name

  • Email address

  • Phone number

  • Website address (if you have one)

You can add additional info at your discretion, but generally the above is all that’s necessary.

Template vs. custom.

I already mentioned you shouldn’t just accept the basic, no frills option when ordering business cards, but what about other templates? The good news is that it’s perfectly OK to use an effective business card template. In fact, many templates will allow you to upload your own logo or other graphic, so even though you may not be the only person with that template, you can still personalize it.

When it comes to a custom business card, make sure you know what you’re doing. You need to understand aspect ratio, pixels, space and a number of other considerations. Otherwise, you may end up with a blurry, out-of-focus design once you go to print. If you don’t understand design, have a professional design it for you if you decide to go the custom route.

Card stock.

Thick, thin or in between? All of these are fine options, but I recommend avoiding cards that are paper-thin. The quality of your card says a lot about the quality of you as a professional, so don’t give that new contact a card that will crumble and fold under the slightest bit of pressure.

Where to buy.

This is the easy part of business card guidelines. There are tons of options for ordering cards. Some are better than others, so check reviews before you make your purchase. You can use a website, or go direct to a printing service. Typically going through websites is cheaper, and you can get just as high quality as custom printers if you go with the right site, so I recommend this route. Not all sites will have the same variety of options for cuts, quality and other aspects of your card, so do your research before you choose. Here are a few options to help you get started:

  • Vistaprint.com – Perhaps the most widely recognized site, Vistaprint has great prices and lots of options.

  • Moo.com – Moo offers a premium stock that I really love. My favorite is the Luxe option.

  • Jukeboxprint.com – Jukebox offers some really cool options. Not the cheapest, but definitely customizable? Ever considered a wooden business card?

These are just a few of the many options available. Do your research, and don’t just settle. Find the best option for you before printing.

Don’t overlook the value of an effective business card. They’re a great way to enhance your personal brand and help build your career. Create a set asap and start handing out your cards. Your networking skills will thank you.

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