As Billy Joel says, “Times they are a changing.” But did he ever need to carry a business card?
Virtual meetings have changed the way we network and conduct business. Conversations are often more focused, more efficient, and we can have more of them. Also, taking notes, doing “at the moment” research, and exchanging contact information is easy.
That said, on Zoom, there is no need for carrying business cards at the ready unless you want to. We simply type our contact info in the chat box or do some copy and paste thingy.
Or not. It’s our choice. I’m usually not so quick to post my info in the chat unless someone asks. The reality is, attendees will find us and are probably looking at our profiles while we are in the meeting.
Now that we’re back to live networking meetings, events, conferences, and outings things are almost back to normal. I say almost because we’re still determining the comfort level and boundaries of others which we’ll be wondering about for a long time to come. Maybe forever.
- Do I shake your hand?
- Can we still hug?
- Should I have a mask with me just in case?
- Are we socially distant?
- Where is the sanitizer?
- Are you triple vaxed?
- Should I bring a stack of my business cards?
- Will you be open to actually handling my business card?
I was at a live networking event last week and experienced many different scenarios. Most people were carrying business cards, but some weren’t. I’m not sure if it was pure laziness or if they were relying on exchanging contact info on their phone.
When I asked, I never really got a straight answer.
My belief is business cards will be relevant forever. Or at least until the next variant. There is no harm in having a short stack of your cards (or pancakes for that matter) with you! Here’s why!
You Don’t Want to Appear Unprofessional
Or unprepared. That was my first thought when people I met simply didn’t have cards with them. A few of those people were brand new in their business and hadn’t gotten around to getting them. Others seemed to not be as open and comfortable talking to people. Maybe not having business cards with them made them feel less prepared to introduce themselves, ask questions, listen, learn, and network.
You Don’t Want to Come Across as a “Taker”
Unless you do! I have had financial advisors tell me that they would rather collect business cards from those they meet rather than exchanging cards or handing out theirs. What kind of impression does that leave?
You Don’t Want to Make the Exchanging of Contact Info Awkward
This happened a few times when I was speaking to those I met at the event. Our conversation prompted the potential exchange of contact information. It seemed awkward for them (not me) to explain that they didn’t have a business card with them. I wasn’t ready to necessarily have them in my phone, so I handed them two of my business cards and asked them to write their name, profession, and email address on the back of one of them. Of course, I had to hand them a pen!
You May Not Want Everyone You Meet in Your Phone
Being allowed to be in someone’s phone and therefore having access to text them offers a certain level of trust. At least for me, as I mentioned earlier. And I know I’m not alone. There is a reason why some people have their cellphone number on their business cards, and some don’t. Be clear about your own level of trust and how you will manage that when you’re at live events.
You Don’t Want to Miss the Opportunity to Follow Up
It may seem a bit silly, but it is a lot of fun coming home from an event with a stack of business cards you’ve collected from people you’ve just met. Cards are tangible, you can write on them, and they serve as a good reminder to follow up with the important people you met. Just make sure you follow up with them the very next day.
You May Be Speaking with Someone That Isn’t Comfortable with Tech
The idea is to make people comfortable when speaking with you. Not everyone is comfortable with QR Codes, apps, and all the electronic platforms and tools that are available. Of course, if you’re spending time in the tech world or with a younger and more progressive audience, you can teach them how to use a business card!
There are plenty of other reasons to be a card carrying networker which include branding, ease, being prepared to drop your card in the fishbowl to win the raffle, having your info handy if your phone needs charging, and being at the ready when you’re not at a formal business event.
There really is no reason NOT to have a business card with you. At least, you’ll be able to offer those you meet a choice given the scenario.
As a life insurance agent once said to me, better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.