Though a lot of today’s interaction and workflow happens online, especially if you’re a blogger or entrepreneur, in person networking is still a great tool to use and gain contacts. To make the most of in person networking, whether it’s at a conference or just in a coffee shop, you need a business card. It’s a small representation of your business that you should be proud to hand over. It should represent you, what you do, and entice people to contact you. A good business card can get you a contact, but a great business card can turn a contact into a client.
So how do you do this? What kind of design should you use, what information should you share, what size should you choose? There are so many decisions to make and so many choices to fumble over. But, the most important thing is that you love your card – because if you do, it’s likely a perfect representation of who you are as a person and as a entrepreneur.
I’m currently in the process of redesigning my own business cards, and I think I’ve finally reached a design I’m happy with (you can check it out below). I’ve decided to go with two different designs and get some printed of both. One is geared towards a more creative client, and one towards a more business oriented professional. I’ve been doing a lot of browsing around online at different designs, and a lot of reading on the information that’s vital to include, and now I’ve got a good handle on it. Though there are no rules that are set in stone about how to create a business card, there are some things that you should consider.
Your Card Should Stand Out
First of all, you want your card to be unique. You want it to stand out from the others. Think of those conferences where they hold contests, and to enter you have to put your card into a bowl, then they pick one out to choose the winner. Imagine dropping your card into the bowl. Will it disappear amongst all the other white glossy cards, or will it stand out and catch people’s eye? Maybe it even catches the eye of the person picking out the card, and you win! Congrats.
Oh, and from a design standpoint I should mention this – remember to design in CMYK not RGB. If you use CMYK the printed colours will be more likely to actually look like the colours you designed for. If you use RGB, the colours will change a lot in print. CMYK is more limited in its colour selection but it’s better to be realistic with the colours you can use, than be disappointed with how they turn out on all 500 of your printed cards.
Your Card Should Describe What You Do
In reality, a well designed card should immediately convey to people what it is that you do. Of course, you can’t be as literal as this – but say you’re a contractor who specializes in installing doors. Your card should be a door. Maybe you have a few different designs. Fancy doors, sliding doors, vintage doors. The card is rectangular so it’s the perfect shape and size, and you could keep things really interesting while immediately conveying what you do. Even if people don’t need a door installed, they will remember your card. Conveying that I’m a designer is a little less literal, because I don’t want to put an image of a computer on my card. But, instead I’ve designed two cards with, well, designs. Though they don’t scream DESIGNER, they subtly say, ‘creative’ and get people to look closer to see what kind of creative I am.
Your Card Should Define You
Thinking of a title to give yourself is always tough. If you get a job at a company and they give you one of their corporate template business cards, your job title is already there. Whatever words they’ve strung together to define what it is that you do. Simple. But, if you’re an entrepreneur, this is something you have to define for yourself. Sure, boxing yourself into one job title might seem a little closed minded, but people need to be able to understand what you do quickly.
Think of it this way – if I’m at a networking event and someone asks what I do – I don’t want to have to give a five minute answer that explains that I’m a freelance designer but I also write a blog and I design websites and I can also do other designs – pretty much whatever people need me to do. No – I’m a brand and web designer. This says it out right – I specialize in web design, but I also design anything else that comes along with a brand. I can also design the brand itself if you need me to. For business purposes my card doesn’t need to say I’m a blogger (since most people today are), but people will find this out when they visit my site. I’m also a writer, and people sometimes hire me to do content development. But that’s usually a role I like to fill when I’m working on the design along with it, so my card doesn’t need to tell people that. Have your name and your title displayed clearly on your card.
Your Card Should Connect You
So what’s the real point of a business card? To make sure people want to get in touch with you, and then to tell them how to do that. First of all, you need to be online. Realistically, if you don’t have a website I’m going to throw your card in the garbage. You need to have a website, and it needs to be attractive. You also need to have an email on your card. Sure, I could go to your website and look at your contact page and then email you, but what if I don’t need to look at your website. What if after meeting you I KNOW that I want to work with you and I’m excited to get in touch right away. Make it as easy as possible. Phone numbers also used to be an essential part of a business card because it was the central form of communication. But today, email has become number one, so in my opinion phone numbers are optional. On my card I don’t have my number. For one thing, I want to be able to use my cards regardless of where I move or how often I have to change my number. For another thing, I have never had someone call me and say they want to work with me. Clients always email first, and then we set up a call time if they want to. In my business at least, no one calls anymore to just say ‘Hey, can you design a website for me?’. People email first. Think about your industry and what people are most likely to want.
Today you also need to consider another form of contact – social media. For me personally, I decided not to put my social media handles on my card, since the first place I want people to land is my website. If they want to follow me on other channels then they can find those easily in my sidebar, but it’s not the first stop I want people to make. If your business is something like a restaurant or a product, it might be smart to have social media links on your card, since people might visit this first to see how popular you are, find reviews, and check out what others are saying.
Your Card Should be Timeless
In reality, you don’t want to have to change your card before you run out of the 500 or 1000 copies you got printed in round one. Sure, a redesign every printing round is maybe something to think about, but sooner than that is just a waste of paper. Make sure your card is something you love, and something you will love a few years from now if they last that long. Also make sure that the design isn’t too modern or attached to what is trending right now. Sure a card with chevrons might be beautiful right now, but in a few months it might be outdated. Pick a design that will last.
When I designed my last round of business cards I was in love with them. The designs were so cute and unique, and I loved handing them out. But today? I’m not so proud. The designs are a little juvenile and not as professional as I now feel within my business. I’m redesigning my cards now because my site and business name has changed, but if it hadn’t I wouldn’t be proudly displaying the cards like I should. I’d be handing them out, design side down, a little embarrassed. Because the designs were great then, but not timeless enough to last, through design changes and through my own personal growth.
Your Card Should Make You Proud
Lastly, your card should make you proud. You should want to walk into a conference and shoot out hundreds of your cards into the air like dollar bills. When someone introduces themselves and shakes your hand, you should be dying for an opportunity to pull out your card and hand it over. When people take your card, glance at it, and then do a double take at its beauty, you should be beaming. Your card is you. Once you are gone and someone forgets your face and maybe that funny thing you said when introducing yourself, all they have is your card. It should be beautiful, it should be communicative, and it should be a proud embodiment of who you are and why you’re worth investing in.