After buying my first Smartphone back in 2005 I came to the conclusion that I would not carry any more business cards.
I bought my first PDA (Palm III xe) at the age of 19 to make sure I could keep contact information. Later on I went through various Palm PDAs (m505 and Tungsten T3) until I bought my Palm Treo 650 that was a big deal to me since I only had to carry my Phone. Previously I would carry my cell phone and my PDA.
I remember how cool I thought when Bluetooth technology came out and I could send a message to my phone to dial the number of the contact I had just found in my Palm’s address book. In a few years things have changed greatly and know I can do that from my iPhone in just a few taps.
A few days ago I walked to the grocery with a friend. I was in shorts, t-shirt, and sandals when someone I know stopped me. He very happily announced that I built websites and give other IT Solutions services through my company. Once he finished his elevator pitch on my behalf for his friends, he asked me if I had any business cards. At the moment I did not, since I had walked no more than 200 meters to the corner store from my house to get some much needed rations. The funny part was that this individual was upset because I told him I was not carrying any at the moment. I did take the person’s info to help him out since he was not really interested in my services but needed help with something else.
Collecting Contact Info
Business cards are not the most effective way to collect contact information since they are easily lost or in some cases thrown away. The other part is the extra steps of having to transfer the information from the card to any type of address book unless you decide to collect business cards and have them in a deck.
Transferring the Info
Since I bought the first PDA I thought it was great that you could send someone else your contact info via infrared and they would be able to store the information. Sadly when I was in college, I was one of the only folks with a PDA so everyone ended up writing contact info on paper. To this day I have contact information from people that gave me their information when I bought my first PDA. Now a good part of the population has a Smartphone that you can easily send the contact info so they can store it. If you need to pass along the contact info it is as easy as sending an email or sending a MMS (Multi Media Message).
I do have Business Cards
A good friend that was older than my dad recommended me to always carry business cards. For the most part I do although I prefer not too. I do understand that I live in an island that supports tradition more than efficiency and effectiveness. I don’t recall ever doing business because I gave out business cards so I guess they are more of a protocol with not much of a purpose.
Business Cards in conferences
The only place where I see some value towards carrying a business card is during conferences. In places like SXSW it is very difficult to capture everyone’s information since every few minutes you are probably meeting someone new.
In this case I would recommend you to use cards like Meet-Meme (affiliate link) that are a lot more fun, friendlier, and are more practical when it comes to connecting with people online later. If you want to learn more about Meet-Meme cards, I published two previous posts on how great I think they are.
Overall I think the traditional business card is obsolete and I rather store contact info on my iPhone. Once I receive it, I can keep each card for future reference. Yes I also have a neat receipts scanner that I rarely use but receiving the info via QR Code like Meet-Meme cards eliminates many steps.
What do you think of traditional business cards? When do you use them? Have they brought any business lately?
photo credit by saaleha