I met this man who is the founder of a top tech company. We exchanged a few words that piped his interest and he asked for my business card – which I didn’t have. He then brought out his phone to take my number and said, “your business card would have been faster” to which I asked, “do people still find that 100% relevant today?” He went on to tell a story about how he met one of his biggest investors in an elevator – someone he had been trying to meet for six months. But here he was on a Sunday, visiting a friend staying at that hotel and this man was standing next to him. He had 40 seconds to introduce himself and hopefully make a connection before the man got to his floor. This was done through the card exchange – quick and effective. It sealed the connection that gave him the access he had been searching for in the last six months.
His point is, sometimes you might just have 40 seconds to pitch to a client or business ally and leave with a contact card for further conversation.
I left thinking about that exchange and decided to conduct a survey involving about 300 people. The result was 60/40, with 60 percent suggesting that business cards are obsolete.
A big part of my indecisiveness, when it comes to having business cards, is the assumption that with the digital growth we are currently experiencing, most people would prefer to communicate with you via LinkedIn, Instagram, or email. Most people find it easier to connect with fellow professionals on LinkedIn where the person’s profile is on full glare.
I believe that professional business cards will always remain important as a Public Relations professional. However, as an individual, I consider them to be a waste, hence my reluctance to get more. But after conversations with some of the top business leaders, I reconsidered my opinion about its usefulness in 2020.
Here are some reasons why business cards might not be phased out as soon as we thought:
A business card can serve as a branding tool for every business professional, it carries the markings of your business and can help in brand identity and authenticity. To date, presenting your business card at meetings is very important in Japan. Some might call it a professional ritual but in some gatherings, you have to present your business card, sometimes before the meetings start. Even though most CEOs have embraced digitization, in a Forbes article on the importance of business cards, Kristopher Jones, founder of LSEO.com, says “Business cards can still make a powerful impression on prospective clients. I don’t believe email is too informal, but business cards are far more professional to bring to a face-to-face meeting. An email can be lost in a sea of spam and contact folders; a business card will remain in a client’s wallet for years. Plus, if you’re networking or giving an elevator pitch, it always helps to have the card”.
Sometimes, the process of getting a person’s information becomes a lot of a task, particularly depending on the setting of the meeting. “Business cards still hold a purpose, which is quickly exchanging information at events, conferences and other networking opportunities. However, a business card alone isn’t enough – there should always be a follow-up via email or social media. However, for the initial connection, a business card is still the easiest and best way to exchange contact information”. – Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR.
We live in a country with very poor power supply. Sometimes, you may want to get certain information like the person’s social media handles but your network or phone battery may have other plans. In this situation, a card will be useful.
Old Business Tradition?
There are people who still live by the traditional rules of doing business and testify that business cards will never go out of style, no matter your target audience. “Not everyone wants to be tech-savvy and move around with a smartphone. Already, there are a lot of people walking around with smartphones and laptops”, says an old schooler. Some might even argue that few incredibly successful business people don’t own a smartphone or don’t like to use it.
Despite the majority of work being done virtually, it seems business card usage isn’t fading anytime soon. Business cards may seem like an old business networking tool, but it is still important in today’s world as it helps define your brand properly and solidify your business legitimacy. It remains the easiest way to exchange contact information. Will it change in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic – especially now that businesses and entrepreneurs, globally, are beginning to embrace technology and encourage their workers to work from home? We’ll see.