Since networking is such a key leadership skill, it is critically important to get business cards. Business cards are one of the most important elements of successful networking - how else are your contacts going to get in touch with you? So, you may be asking yourself, "How do I use business cards?"
Key Tip: Have business cards made up and always, always, always carry at least a half a dozen with you.
If you don’t have business cards from your place of work, then order “calling cards” which are business cards with a focus on you rather than your business. These are especially important if you are looking for a new job or career change.
There are a number of places where you can purchase inexpensive cards - even going to a store like Staples Business Depot provides you with a number of inexpensive options.
If you are still tentative about this - buy some sheets of business card paper for an ink-jet or laser printer. Almost any word processing software will allow you to create very nice looking cards for pennies each.
Your card need not be fancy - often simple, crisp and clean works best. Make sure you select a font that is easily read - most script or writing style fonts fail at this test - and make sure the size of the font is easy for older people (over 45 like me) to read without reading glasses.
Some people want their cards to stand out or be a part of their brand. This is okay but the fancier you make something the more likely that it will be viewed as a novelty rather than a serious business tool. I know a gentleman who uses cards that are half the standard size. They are unique and different - and they don't fit in my card file! Hmmm. Now what do I do with them? They don't even work in my card scanner!
Key information to include on your cards is your name including what it is you like to be called, i.e. if your name is Robert but you like to be called "Bob" then put "Bob" in brackets right after Robert so the recipient knows how to address you.
If you have a title, degrees, designations etc., I recommend putting these on as well although keep it simple. Nothing looks as dumb to me as someone with 37 letters of the alphabet after their name. If you are blessed with all sorts of credentials, I would suggest including two or at the most three and pick the ones that are most relevant.
Underneath your name, you can put a title although this usually isn't necessary. I once had a young man give me his card and his title was CEO. I immediately inquired about his company only to learn that he was the sole owner and employee. CEO indeed. Talk about losing credibility!
Other obvious things to put on your business card include how to best get in touch with you.
Make sure you include things like area codes in your phone number and if you have a cell phone I recommend putting that number on as well as your home or business number.
An email address is also a key component and I prefer to have my clients use a local service provider email account rather than "hotmail". If you only have a "hotmail" account, that is fine but within the business world, having a business related email address provides additional credibility.
One final key tip on business cards:
Put your business cards in a business card holder, preferably a metal one.
A folder or a holder for your cards allows you to carry them in your pocket without having them appear looking like a used tissue. (I admit to carrying some in my wallet but even these start to look a little tired after a while. Not the way to make a great first impression!)
Now - go out and pass out your business cards to people you wish to get to know better. They are a gift and hopefully they will have one to give you back!