I've been asked several times online, and plenty of times in real life about my business cards. They put a smile on someone's face every time I give one. There are two really important factors to great business cards.
Factor 1: What They Look Like
One of the two important things about business cards is what they LOOK like. Obviously. They should reflect you and your business, especially if you're self-employed.
Everyone is intrigued by the design, and drawn to the little shot of red that is my name. And then they read the fun little invitation: Let's stay in touch, ok?
I put the QR code on there that links to JessicaSprague.com, so they can visit my site while they're still holding the card if they want, or anytime afterward by just snapping it with a QR code reader. More about creating your own QR code right here.
Factor 2: What they Feel Like
The second important part of a business card is what it feels like. This part is honestly veddy veddy important, and I don't say that only because I'm a paper snob (although I am, raise of hand), but because it still subtly sends a signal. It should be smooth and sturdy in the hand. Or if it's textured or letterpressed, it should feel like that.
I got my cards printed at Moo.com with the smooth matte finish, and boy golly do they feel good. Sturdy and substantial, and rounded corners to boot. The rounded corners cost extra, but they add a really special touch, especially to a business with a little more feminine feel to it. (If you're a welder or a blacksmith, I'd say probably stick with the square corners. But your call.)
What Not to Do
And now this is the part where I beg. Picture me with my hands clasped together and an earnest look on my face. There are other places to get your cards done than Moo, and that's fine. But you must promise and pinky-swear RIGHT NOW that you will never get the ones that you print yourself and tear at the perforations. Not ever. I mean, have you ever run your fingers along a perforated edge? *shudder* Regardless, if you can hold them up and see light through them, they're too thin. You deserve a better first impression than that, and so do they. (Paper snob, over'n'out).
How to Give a Business Card
I studied Japanese for two years in college, I might have mentioned. One of the most striking things about the Japanese culture is the level of social convention - ceremonies, if you will. And included in this is "a way" to hand someone a business card. This particular convention is so important that we had a whole lesson on it, AND a practice where we handed cards to people after introducing ourselves. And you know what? I LOVED it. I try to do the 'toned-down, American' version of this whenever I hand over a business card.
Handing someone your card with at least a LITTLE pause for 'ceremony' shows them respect, and while you don't have to follow the exact protocol the Japanese do (it's a little intense - holding the card with both hands, thumbs on the corners closest to you, text facing the recipient, and bowing as you hand it), I do think that in many situations handing someone your card could be a little more formal.
This sounds funny here in 'merica, where we are informal pretty much ALL of the time, but here's my reasoning. If I'm at a conference or a convention, and I'm meeting people and handing them my card, I want them to remember me. I've already talked above about the reaction I usually get when they actually look at the card, which almost always catches their eye and they pause. But before that is The Delivery.
I say something like, "Can I have your card?" or "I'd like to talk more about this later, can I give you my card?" something like that. And then cue body language:
- Turn to my business card holder, which should be right in reach at the top of my bag (should I tell you here that you should have a unique and gorgeous business card holder? Yes). Make sure the card is upside-down to me (I usually pack them like this)
- Turn back to my contact, fully facing them, following the card with my eyes
- With one hand holding the center-top of the card, thumb on top, offer them the card (text facing them, of course)
- Wait til they take the card, then look them in the eye and smile like I mean it.
I'm offering them something of value here. My time and an invitation to talk later. That's a big deal. And it communicates that I'm proud of what I do, competent at what I do, and I would be delighted to spend more time talking about what we might do together, and I'm not just saying that.
You know, if this whole thing made you roll your eyes, you don't have to do it this way. There are other ways, instead of or in addition to this to capture leads and make initial contacts with people. And of course if you are in a situation where you're slinging a card at someone super casually, i.e. not in a business setting, you don't have to go through as much formality. Above all, though, don't apologize for your card or yourself, either with words or body language.
Now it's time to go design and order you some business cards, and then spend time practicing getting one out and giving it to someone. Remember turn to them, hand it with text facing them, and then eye contact and smile. Prep for the closing handshake, and scene. You made a new contact!
Have you made business (or personal) contacts with the exchange of business cards? Did they do something memorable, or did you? Are there any other 'ceremonies' you can think of where you work to make a good impression?
I'd love to see your business card, too! You can upload it in the comments here, or tag me on Facebook, or post it to the new gallery in the JessicaSprague.com community!