Recently, when I knew that I was going to begin a full-time job search, I knew that getting my personal website and branding back up and running was a top priority. Part of that branding involved getting some new business cards that would help me get a job as well as reactivate my network.
What is the goal of a business card?
Ultimately, it’s a piece of paper that has all of your contact information on it. So, you could say that one goal is to convince the other person to contact you. However, the business card swap has become such a rote piece of the business interaction to the point that there are comedy skits about it. Don’t think, though, that I’m suggesting you become so critical of business cards that you think about them like Patrick Bateman.
To explain what I’m talking about, I need to talk about a past interaction, during an organizational change project with DHL. I had a conversation with an executive from DHL surrounding a new program they’d recently implemented. That program had its own logo and branding, and this executive had decided to have that logo placed on the back of his business card. He also chose to hand his card to people with that logo face up as a symbol of his dedication to that program’s success. As he said, “When I hand my card to people like this, I’m saying, ‘this is who I am’.”
When that executive takes that action, he’s taking advantage of a valuable psychological process. Our minds love to classify things quickly and easily. When he does this, he’s causing his name to be labelled and categorized differently in the other person’s mind. He’s causing that person to have to be more connected to him because of his investment to the action.
Here are my new business cards. You can see that across the back of them, I’ve inscribed a question, “What is a cogniphany?” and below that is inscribed, “Discover.” That calls a person to action and just below that is an easy way to satisfy the answer to that question. While I may not cause someone to spend a great amount of time looking at my website, I’ve created a way for that person to more easily remember who I am, when next we meet.
Thus, that’s what I am saying. Look at your business cards and ask yourself, “What am I saying about who I am when I hand this to someone?” Are you just taking place in a rote business ritual that ends up being forgotten moments later? Or are you saying something critical and important about yourself and taking advantage of a rapid person-to-person interaction to grab his or her attention?