This week, I am going to a conference.  I am taking lots of business cards with me – even though this is a social media conference.  So, my answer about whether the business card is needed, is a definite yes. In fact, The business card says a lot about its bearer and is an efficient communications devices. Click To TweetIn a world where paper is transferred between people less and less, the traditional business card seems to have survived and thrived. What is it about the simple business card that makes it relevant, even today?

For one thing, business cards are fast. The exchange of business cards at a typical meeting takes less than a minute and provides attendees with all the information they need to reach each other. It remains faster than the electronic business card exchange which is reliant on confirming the other’s technology platform and device. It is also faster than scanning devices used at many trade shows.

Since CASL became a reality in Canada, the exchange of a business card also offers implied consent to send follow-up communications for at least a couple of years.

Beyond the easy exchange of information, today’s business cards are also implicit communications vehicles for the bearer.

The card stock used is considered by many a statement about the quality of the individual/company.  Generally, the heavier the card, the better the quality – within limits. I have received some cards that are too heavy or are not the “normal size”.  These cards are difficult to manage when you are working a room.  The finish of the paper is also an indicator – linen finishes and matte finishes are considered better than glossy.

The presence of a corporate logo and the way in which it is printed is another indicator of quality. The business card is a form of advertising – a fact that goes back to its roots.  Most companies consider the business card a key element in their branding and take great pains to ensure the corporate logo is prominent and well printed.  One of my favourite all time cards is the one I received from McDonald’s Canada President John Betts many years ago – it’s in the shape of a Big Mac and acts as an in-store coupon. While John’s card is definitely not standard shape or size, it is memorable. By the way, I have never exchanged it for the Big Mac it offers.

Traditionally, the person’s title is also part of their business card.  As someone who has been involved in setting business card standards for an organization, I can tell you truthfully that office politics plays out fully on this element!  Choosing the title that makes sense to recipients of the card and communicates the status of the individual is a delicate balance.  This element swings from the complete absence of a title to crazy titles (Chief Fun Officer) to nondescript and highly bureaucratic.

One of the things I personally struggle with on my own card is whether to show my professional designations. For some audiences, the fact that I hold several designations is impressive and gives me credibility.  Others may find the presence of the designations pretentious and off putting – akin to bragging.  I have chosen to use the designations as I can always prove that I don’t rest on my laurels for those who don’t appreciate the credentials but the instant credibility with critical individuals helps tremendously.

In addition to giving recipients the ways they can reach me, my business card spells my name right. This may be laughable for many of you but with a name like mine, this is an asset.

For a long time, I resisted printing anything on the back of my card.  Now I take advantage of this real estate to tell the recipient of my card what I do.

I continue to be a fan of this small communication format.  Now, readers, it’s your turn. Is the business card still needed? Click To Tweet