It's hard to believe that close to three and a half years ago almost all business came to a screeching halt. In-person work, meetings, and business were severely affected.
No matter how you feel about viruses, masks, and the shutdowns, it was a time of uncertainty, panic, and disruption.
One part of building and maintaining a business immediately became irrelevant, the business card. It's kind of hard to pass out or collect cards if people are not meeting in person.
The business card's origin can be traced back to around the time of the Pilgrims and Plymouth Rock. Visiting Cards were used in the 17th century. Although they were standardized in size to fit in business card holders and Rolodexes, people have been trying to improve on them or make them stand out with odd shapes, creating a book from them, and even going 100% digital.
But, just as live viruses remain and evolve over time, business cards are still the go-to tool for exchanging information at in-person meetings.
Business Card Technology
Just as people predicted that social media made websites irrelevant, the DEATH of the business card has been highly exaggerated!
The 2″ x 3 ½” paper-based card is still king. They fit in your pocket, are easy to hand over and store, and have more than enough space to get your brand and your contact information across.
You can try one of those digital cards that you can tap on a cell phone. It creates your contact information in their device, but I bet you less than 50% of recipients could find it on their phone, and less than 10% would ever use it.
QR codes are all the rage since you can pull out your phone and it will use your camera to redirect people to your URL. The problem you have to overcome is assuming that everyone is phone savvy and wants to use their phone to maintain and capture data.
I personally prefer the size and flexibility of my two 27″ monitors to manage my data capture activities.
I even created a slick system using Evernote, Zapier, and more that would allow me to take a picture of the card, hand it back to the person (differentiation), add them to LinkedIn, and send them a “Nice to Meet You” email. As slick as that was, it really just created tons of irrelevant data in my CRM that clogged up my systems and brain.
There's something to be said about pulling out a pile of cards and putting them on your desk. If it's a valuable connection, you can find and connect with them on social media. Use that (Nimble to LinkedIn) to add them to your CRM, and take notes to set up a plan to continue the conversation.
Your Guide to Creating Better Business Cards
It used to be the case that business cards had tons of information. Heck, my current card has my landline and fax number (neither exists anymore) my cell phone, my email address, my website, my slogan, my picture, height, weight, the date of my last hole-in-one, and my recipe for my dad's world-famous pasta sauce.
The main goal of a business card is to be remembered and have your interaction continued and acted upon. So why not make it as easy and actionable as possible?
Two main things I have embraced are a Link Aggregation Service and a Personal URL.
A Link Aggregation Service (I use LinkTr.ee or https://LinkTr.ee/BaconGuy) to give the user access to all of my “STUFF”. It's kind of like a website Landing Page that contains links to all of my information:
- My Websites (B2b-im.com – main business website / BaconPodcast.com – my podcast / BrianBasilico.com – my speaking website, and multiple others)
- My Social Media (Facebook, LinkedIn Twitter, Threads, Instagram, YouTube, and more)
- My Contact Information (Picture, Phone Number, Email Address, Text Link)
- My Resources (eBooks, links to products I use)
- Link to book a meeting (via Acuity Scheduling)
Social media platforms like Facebook and others do not allow aggregators and URL shorteners because they mask links and could contain viruses or spam. That is why having a vanity URL (BaconGuy.me) is necessary and useful for either a landing page on your website or as a URL that forwards to your link aggregator.
Your Guide to Capturing Better Business Card Data
Most people have a pile of Someday Business Cards. “Someday… I will (call, contact, file, reach out, or take any kind of action).
I suggest you will have better and more fruitful results if you strike when the iron is hot. No more than the day after you actually take possession of that data-filled business gem.
- Decide if the card is relevant to your current or future business needs. If not, send an email or LinkedIn message that says, “Nice to meet you”, and then toss (or better yet, recycle) the business card.
- If the card is relevant, find that person on LinkedIn. Ask to connect and add a note to your request saying, “Nice to meet you” and add why you want to connect (“I don't want to… and will not SPAM you”)
- Enter the data into your CRM. I use Nimble to capture data from LinkedIn. Then I use the card to fill in the email address, phone number, and notes. Most LinkedIn contacts are missing key information that is found on the card.
- Once they connect, it's your call what to do next. Either say, “Thanks for the connection” and let it mellow (hoping they see your posts and research your profile) or suggest you meet via Zoom or book a coffee meetup.
- Toss (or better yet, recycle) the business card.
It's time to pull out your business card, look at it, and imagine it sitting on someone else's desk. Is it relevant? Does it make you accessible? Would you consider that person as CRM, database, and connection-worthy? How would you feel if you were the receiver of your own card?
I know mine is not. So I am all over getting a new one designed fast so I can take advantage of every business opportunity I engage in moving forward!
“Innovation is the calling card of the future.”
– Anna Eshoo
Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about using business cards today! Do you have a networking and data capture strategy that is working for you? What tips or techniques can you share that work for you and your business?
To learn more about this and other topics on B2b Sales & Marketing, visit our podcast website at The Bacon Podcast.