As a web worker, I handle most of my communications online. My first contact with many of my clients is via email or, sometimes, phone. But I still have a big box of business cards sitting on my desk, and I think they come in handy. I’m willing to pay to get professional business cards printed regularly.
Just because most of my clients contact me online doesn’t mean that that’s how they find me. I ask every new client how they found me and, more often than not, it’s because someone I know recommended me. What’s surprised me, though, is that it isn’t always past clients passing along my email address. More than a few times, it’s been someone that I met at a networking event passing my card along to someone who they thought could use it. These aren’t people who know me well; without that business card in their hands, they would have been hard-pressed to even remember my name. But having that convenient little piece of paper in their pocket led to me landing a new client.
Of course, I’ve landed clients just by heading out to networking events and handing out my business cards in person, as well. There’s a reason that business cards have become standard for business — and why many tools that allow you to share information via smartphone and other gadgets have been slow to catch on outside of technologically-oriented industries.
There are times when even the most web-oriented among us have to meet with people face-to-face. Being able to hand out a business card does more than guarantee that they have your contact information and even goes beyond making it easy to pass it along. It can help establish your professionalism. Depending on the type of work you do, there can be some difficulty in reminding your contacts that you’re a professional — after all, you spend most of your day at home or the coffee shop. But little touches like a professional business card can really help remind clients and colleagues that you are a professional, no matter where you’re working at.
I’ve got a couple of business cards in my bag that don’t actually belong to me. I hand them out when I’m handing my own out, though: I have certain people that I work with on a regular basis and if I’m talking about a project they’d be involved in, I like to help them out with a little promotion while I can. They’ve got a stack of my cards, too. The system works out pretty well. We don’t routinely attend events (networking or otherwise) together, but each of us still gets an opportunity to get our cards in the hands of people who might like to work with us. A business card may not be the perfect substitute for your ability to win new clients or projects in person, but it can definitely help in situations where you wouldn’t have been able to be there anyhow.
Do you still use business cards?