Recently, I had appointments with African diplomats from different nations of the continent in London – I had a period of two weeks to attend to most of those appointments. And because the information was not communicated to me on time, my business card wasn’t ready, as it was a new role for me – the design was ready but the hard copies weren’t because they weren’t yet printed. The situation made me panic a bit because I know the relevance of business cards in such high profile appointments, and I also know how irresponsible you might be deemed to be if you are unable, before or after the meetings to hand over your business card. In recognition of this, I made concerted efforts to make sure I print the business cards even if it was almost impossible. On my first appointment, the business cards weren’t ready, and when I was asked for it, I showed them a screenshot of the e-version on my phone, even if I felt very embarrassed. When I finally got the cards printed, on my second appointment, I felt like a complete man.
One question that most people ask is, ‘Do I still need a business card? The answer is YES, for the following reasons.
1. It creates a positive perception: when you appear in a meeting with a business card, you’re considered to be business-minded, which is a good first impression. When people hand their cards over to you, and you have nothing to give in return, it can be very embarrassing, and the perception you create isn’t good for your business. When potential networks or clients consider you to be unserious at first meeting, you may not have a second chance to change that impression. So, it’s better to, from the onset give yourself a positive kick-start.
2. You don’t need to keep reminding them your name: when I go for a meeting, as I shake hands with the person, the next thing I do is hand my business card over to the person after the initial introduction. By doing this, I don’t need to keep reminding the person my name. Some people are so forgetful or may not be able, at a go, remember your name, but with your business card on their hands, they will stare at the card intermittently to recall your name as they discuss with you. I’ve seen that happen many times in some meetings I have attended.
3. You are accessible: on your business card are your email address, phone number, website, name of organization, designation, and a few other information. With these information, your networks or potential clients can easily access you. Once you can be accessed, it will be easier to communicate with you. It can be so frustrating for someone who wants your services, knows you have the ability to offer such services, but cannot reach you because they don’t have your contact details. The business card contains your contact details.
4. A keep for a reference: people you give your business card may not need your services or products immediately – somehow, sometime, in the future, they may just need you when you aren’t expecting it, and your business card will be the point of reference. Without your business card, what would they make reference to? They may not even remember your name, or that of your business – they will only remember what you can do, but won’t have the document containing how they can reach you.
5. A keep for a referral: sometimes, business cards are used for referrals. Someone might need your services, and whoever needs your services might know someone who has your business card, and with that, they can be referred to you. So, with a business card, there’s a cascade reaction of networking, or chain reaction.
6. It’s part of branding: what would people consider your offerings to be if you have no business card? It isn’t good for you if individuals regard your business model to be behind a standard expectation. Business cards are part of the ways you brand your products or services. I can’t imagine a business man without a business card – the perception that will be created, and the way the brand will be deemed wouldn’t be nice.
7. For the un-digitally sound: there is an argument in certain corners that business cards are old fashioned. I think that argument itself is baseless, unintelligent and inconsiderate. There is a section of the world’s demography that know nothing about digital technology, and some are not even interested in it. Among this huge demography is a huge market. Will you abandon this thick part of the pyramid that prefer papers to electronics? Of course no!
8. It helps avoid long personal introductions: when you meet people, it is awkward to do lengthy introductions – you can’t say your name, phone number, email address, and everything in one introduction – that will look stupid. I’m sure the person will be thinking, ‘Doesn’t he have a business card?’ With a business card, you do a little introduction and then go straight into the main business discussion.
9. When you don’t have a minute to spare: A couple of years ago, I met someone while we were getting off the airplane – we both hadn’t got one minute to spare, so, we both pulled our wallets out of our pockets and exchanged our business cards. Till date, we are still in contact. This has happened to me over and over again on different occasions, and will continue to happen.
10. When you meet innumerable number of potential networks: when I am going to certain events where I perceive that there will be lots of people, I take a reasonable amount of business cards along because I wouldn’t have the time to stand with everyone to say who I am. In such situations, I politely greet them and hand my business cards over to them. Without my business cards, I will only be able to connect with a few number of people.