Since December last year I've been going to networking events pretty much every week.
I always end up with a pocket full of cards which I try to organise and work out which ones I need to follow up on.
One thing that stands out though, is how very few of them ACTUALLY STAND OUT.
This is an amazing opportunity to actually 'press the flesh' when you hand over the image of your brand.
Most designers know this, and tend to put a bit of extra effort into their cards.
I find that when I hand over one of mine, people actually feel the texture and look at the design. And they're by no means expensive cards (around 7pence each).
When someone takes an interest in your card, it's an open invitation to talk about your brand.
I look at them as an ice-breaker. Nearly every time I hand one over it gives me the opportunity to give advice on how the person I am speaking to can improve their card.
Sharing knowledge and giving value is one of the keys to effective networking. Imagine being able to do this as soon as you meet someone.
Here are 3 tips that you can use immediately to increase the effectiveness of YOUR business cards.
1. Keep it simple
A business card is NOT a directory of all the services you offer.
It's simply a tool for people to remember you.
It's a quick reference for someone to be able to contact you.
Of course, say what you do on there. But keep it simple.
Give a mission statement, or a general description. Don't list every service that you do.
The perception of businesses who treat a business card like a leaflet or flyer is generally not good.
Be brave, leave a little to the imagination.
2. Invest in an interesting texture, finish or feature
This doesn't have to cost a fortune. In fact, with websites like solopress.com, moo.com and the like offering highly creative and affordable solutions, there really is no excuse.
Quality matters. What do you think a cheap, thin and flimsy card says about your business?
To me, it says they don't care about their brand. About what their customers think about them.
More often than not it's a lack of imagination not care that is the reason. Ask your designer how you can have more impact when you hand over your business card.
3. Put your face on them
I know it sounds weird, but now more than ever it's essential to help people to remember you.
Most people who you hand your card to will not remember your face by the time they come to phone or email you.
The solution is almost too simple. Put a good quality mug-shot on there.
As an added bonus, studies have shown that people are less likely to throw away something that contains an image of a human face.
If they find your card days, weeks or months after meeting you, they should hopefully remember you, and potentially when you gave it to them.
I'd say that's pretty powerful.
In summary, a well designed business card tells your story when you're not there.
It's a tool for people to make contact with you.
It's as important as how you answer the phone or shake someones hand.
Make sure you make it count.