How is the perfect business card for networking?

tarjetas de visita networking

This week I am getting ready for a couple of events. And, while doing that, I just realized that i might not have enough cards. I am not really into paper, but I’ve been to a couple of things lately where they weren’t much into vcards or Linkedin, so I will have to reprint and (re)think the design of my own cards.

So, while I’m going over this, I’ve been checking the best cards I’ve gotten and how to make them even better for networking. These are the top tips:

1. Bring the picture on!

Most corporate business cards lack a photo of the person you’re meeting, that’s a fact. But when you are meeting (and talking to) about 50 people per day, you will probably end up mixing names, faces and companies.

If you want other people to remember you, add your pic to the card. If the relevant thing is the business, make the logo big and readable, the tagline with meaning and a clear idea of what they do (I’ve got cards that I wouldn’t be able to know what they do if it wasn’t for what I wrote on them).

And this takes me to the second point:

2. Have blank space (for the writing)

Many designers have fear of white spaces, but if I’ve learnt something in the past few years is that no matter the funny, cute, stunning or colorful the business card is, if you can’t write on it, you’re lost!

Leaving some room for writing will help others note your common interests, what we’ve talked about, next steps and other nice facts. This way, when you go back home (or to the hotel) it will be easier and more effective to filter and follow-up.

3. And a unique element that gives it strength

My first corporate cards have different backs (each one of us had a different back design), but they all kept the same idea, using the company’s name in an original way. It made all the sense because it was a branding agency and it reflected the creativity behind the work (and I must add that some people collected them).

After that, I got the typical boring cards where the only differentiating element was the logo. No body would tell you what the company did, just by reading the card.

There is a road between the both, and I try to make my cards differentiating and get some room for conversation. For example, my sister writes about coffee, so the cards reflect that. And mine have different backs with some of my favorite photos (all of which have appeared here on the blog) so I can choose which one I give depending on the theme of the event and the person I am talking to. And, sometimes I just let them choose.

4. Make them standard (in size)

People get too creative in terms of textures and sizes, with the idea that they will stand out from the crowd. But true is that most business people have standard size card holders and if your card is too big, they will fold your card. And if it is too small, it might end up lost. That, and the fact that unusual shapes they are harder to scan and archive.

If you want to give something truly original, go bigger and print cards, flyers or A4 sheets that they can work with and carry around.

* Take into account that different countries mean different standards. Check that you are using the right one at this post by TheMuse

5. Be tactile friendly (and eco if possible)

Nice plastic laminates look fancy, but they make harder to write on. Unless you are afraid that the card might lose the ink (heat or over use) you are better with cotton and recycled paper that is nice to touch and writing.

You could also go original (wooden cards, cookies…) but you will have the same problem as in the non-standard sizes. Or, you could give a USB card that works as a business card (people keeps them as gold.)

6. Don’t stop at the position, go functional

Yes, it is nice to read CEO on your card, now we know that you will be making the important decisions. But does it help me beyond that?

Unless you are Richard Branson or Bill Gates, it is better to add your area of specialization: “Travel Writer & CEO”, “Unique jewelry designer & CEO” for example.

7. Make the contact direct

Some people refrain from giving direct access through their cards. No phone numbers or direct phone numbers, to keep you safe. I understand why do that when you are giving your card to almost anyone, but since you are here for networking, why making it difficult to reach you?

You could always have two versions of the card and only give the full one to those who seem a better fit to you.

Plus, even when you are the only contact, isn’t it better to talk to [email protected] than to [email protected]?

8. Don’t add the info that you won’t need

Let’s say that you are on every single social network, why write them all in your business card? Choose what ads powerful information to the contact and ignore the rest. First, because it’s distracting from all the rest of the information. Second, because it takes room for writing. And third, because it’s better to focus and direct people to the network (or networks) you are better at.

Also, if you are not writing the usernames, don’t place the icons there. We all know that you are probably on twitter or facebook, but if I have to go to your website to see the usernames, they are useless in your card.

Do you still get faxes? If not… Do you need to add your address to the card or will you meet them at their offices or skype?

9.  Is easy to read (by almost anyone)

Double check the typography size. Test the colors with your designers to see if daltonic people will see the same you see (or double-check with your family) and never write yellow on white or use a really thin typography over dark colors.

Some cards are harder to read when they get a bit of light (golden writing, glazes and similar things are stunning but should be kept for wedding invitations.)

10. Can be scanned

No, you don’t have to have the most expensive business cards in the world. Your card could have NFC but an easy QR or a traditional typography would suffice.

You can also create your own QR codes at this website.

Other ideas to consider

There are some uncommon but interesting alternatives you might want to try:

  • Instead of writing your website’s homepage, create a landing page that specifically explains what you can do for them or why your brand might interest them
  • Add tactile touches or smells so your card stands out in a different way
  • Customize them on site. Maybe not all the card, but a specific point that you can add with a nice pen (check it dries fast so it doesn’t get messy)

* Pic from Andy Kelly on Unsplash

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