By Rob Brown, published on 28th February 2011
If you’re in business, you need a business card. There is no better and faster way to share your message and your contact details with a prospect or contact, hopefully encouraging a connection as you do.
One of the most common ways of sharing cards is through networking. Networking is simply word-of-mouth marketing, and is probably the purest low cost/no cost way to promote your business. ‘The strategy for survival is visibility,’ as legendary networker Will Kintish told me. And the joy of networking is that you can do it anytime, anyplace, anywhere! From shopping and walking the dog to queuing for planes, trains and automobiles, you’ll always come across someone to talk to. And while they might not be your next best client, their colleague, friend, brother, sister, even mother or father might be.
It makes sense, therefore, to take full advantage of all the opportunities for business promotion. You must be ready for any and every contact, and your card helps you to do that. Here are a few tips and suggestions to help you make the right impression at the right time to maximise your opportunities.
1. Always carry your cards. How often has an opportunity arisen and you’ve been asked for a card, only to give the response, ‘Sorry, I didn’t bring them’ or ‘Sorry, I don’t have any with me right now’ or ‘Sorry, they’re at the printers’ or ‘Sorry, I’ve just run out’. Sometimes these moments with these people are never-to-be-repeated opportunities. Have some in your car, your wallets, your briefcase, your coat pockets, your desk and your bags to ensure these words never come out of your mouth.
2. Pass the history test. If someone picks it up a year later, would they know exactly what you do and why they should call you? Because that’s when they’ll probably need you.
3. Make it easy to read. Packing your business card with information is not clever. Space is good, and you’re already using the back of the card, right? Tiny fonts, over-elaborate fonts, dodgy designs and cluttered messages will ensure your card travels very quickly from your hand to their hand to their pocket to their bin or trash can!
4. Use other people’s business cards. Many networkers and business professionals ask for more than one card when they’re talking to someone they feel they can refer. Indeed, they know it adds value and kudos to introduce people to superior suppliers, advisers and providers. I once read that business promotion is a circle, not a line, and it’s a really good way of putting it. When you uncover a need that you can’t fulfil, it’s powerful to introduce them to someone that can. This opens up deeper conversations, and shows you’re helping, not selling. It will hopefully allow you to talk further about what you do and how you can help.
5. Use your colours wisely. There has been so much research on how different colours evoke different emotional responses. Blue is seen as cool and professional, perhaps even corporate. Red is creative and warm. Green is clean and perhaps evokes ‘action’. Without making this a complete design point, you must ask yourself not just what your business card will make people think, but what it will make them feel!
6. Use a ‘Non’ business card. To make themselves memorable, I see more and more professionals, particularly business owners and self-employed ‘solo-preneurs’ using objects like coasters, mints, juggling balls, mouse mats, notepads and even fridge magnets, all instead of the standard business card. Printing techniques mean almost anything can become a business card. Recall of you and your business is easier with more memorable ‘hooks’ and images. A good friend in business consultancy writes out all of his cards personally on various high quality pieces of card. Every card is therefore unique and very memorable. This may not be for everyone. This is merely a suggestion for you to consider depending on exactly what you do and the way you do it.