At gatherings I sometimes collect business cards. By “sometimes” I mean only if I have a reason to. Believe it or not, I don’t put everyone I’ve ever met on my mailing list. So when I collect a card I either intend to contact that person or (on occasion) I intend to add them to a list. If you are going to use business cards, here are some key things that will maximize their effectiveness…

  • Your Name (you personally) should be clear and visible and readable from arm’s length. That means it is also easy to find. Everyone hates a business card with strange font combinations so you have to scan all over the card to find the person’s name. Where’s Waldo? Or whoever I’m talking to.
  • Your Company name should be clear and easy to find.
  • Contact information is up to you. Some cards only have email or only have a phone number. It depends on how you want to be contacted. If you want to give your entire mailing address, fax number, and extension that’s fine. Decide WHY you would hand out this information and what you really need on that card to fulfill your needs.
  • Company logo and slogan. If you have a nice logo or a slogan that really helps you differentiate yourself, then find a place for them on your card. Remember: They should contribute to the goal of making your card useful and easy to use. If they detract, get them out of the way, make them smaller, move them to the side, or drop them altogether.
  • Titles . . . hmmmmm. Some people need titles. But most of us don’t really need titles on our cards. They’re just one more thing that needs to be changed if you change jobs. Does a title do something for you? If yes, put it on the card. If not, leave it off. Sometimes we feel obligated to put something on the card for a title. If so, make it descriptive and useful. Or bland and boring. But whatever you do, do it intentionally and not because you feel you need to put something there.
  • Other Information (QR Code, Facebook ID, Fan Pages, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, AIM, Pinterest, 4Square, Yelp, Flickr, Reddit, RSS, Technorati, StumbledUpon, Digg, Yahoo Instant Messenger, Jagg, blog, Klout, etc.). I bet you know where this is going. There is simply too much miscellaneous stuff to fit it all on a tiny little business card. So if you want to put something else on there, be picky. Choose a few things that don’t take up much space AND that contribute to your marketing goals.
  • Use the back wisely. Or leave it blank. Remember, the back of the card is not for ten little tips, quotations, IP Subnet calculators, etc. The back is primarily for notes. You can use some of the back for links, logos, QR code, etc. But leave at least half of it blank—or lined for notes.
  • Make your business card scan-able. You should have a business card scanner. If not, visit your more successful competition and borrow theirs. Make sure that your business card is clean and clear enough that it scans well.