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    This is the personal blog of Simon Kendrick and covers my interests in media, technology and popular culture. All opinions expressed are my own and may not be representative of past or present employers
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Offering business cards

I’ve already written on my loathing of business cards. But as with my attitude to the word insight, my stance on the issue is modifying.

I still think they’re an inefficient remnant from an analogue age that have little relevance alongside a mobile phone (particularly one that syncs to an email client).

But if someone requests a business card, then that is their preferred means of exchanging information. And that should be respected.

I still have little inclination to order a batch. But I think I’ve found a compromise. Customised cards.

I’ll carry some blank pieces of card around with me in my wallet. If someone requests my contact details and doesn’t want to do it digitally (whether via Bump, Bluetooth or manually entering the information), I’ll create a card. Similar to the example below, which shows both sides of a card.

Simon Kendrick's business cardThis has multiple advantages

  • Efficiency – the only wastage will be the unused pieces of card that could be reused for something else
  • Custom levels of access – I can choose which contact details to provide. My social graph isn’t completely open, and this allows me to choose whether to give my mobile number or my office number, or whether to include my Twitter or Linked In details alongside an email address
  • Personalisation – I can customise the card by including details of our meeting or a private in-joke. This should aid cognitive recall when the recipient is sorting through their cards (and probably deciding which to throw away)
  • Stand-out – it is different and so it should stand out (a little) among a pile of boring corporate cards. As Hugh MacLeod – a pioneer in repurposing business cards – would say, it creates a social object

Of course, there are drawbacks to this approach

  • Legibility – I have terrible handwriting, and so my contact details may not be legible
  • Digital incompatibility – Digital business card scanners won’t pick it up
  • Too informal – It doesn’t fit in with the corporate brand, and so wouldn’t be suitable in more formal circumstances (though I’m not planning on visiting Japan, with its strict business card etiquette, in the near future).

I’ll trial this approach and see how I get on. Ultimately, business cards are transient and disposable – they are a means to an end. But if my means could be a little more memorable, a little more personal and a little more environmentally friendly, then I would be fine distributing my contact details.

Though I would still prefer people to take down my details digitally.



9 Responses

  1. I tend to go for a similar(ish) approach- I have my work cards, but will write my personal email address (or website) on it if I want someone to actually use it.

    I think I’m going to steal your idea and start adding messages in future though…

  2. Simon. That’s a great idea.
    I agree with what you say about ‘formal’ occassions; but it takes away the stuffiness around business cards. Tell me if it’s a success. I may even try!

  3. This would work for some occasions and it’s a great way to show your creativity. I do something similar, but have pre-printed shell cards with the basic data on them, and, an empty space for the customization. I usually do a drawing or a reminder “send me the slides” or something like that. At networking events, you really need an actual card, I can’t write fast enough!

  4. Thanks for your input, guys.Pre-printed shell cards are undoubtedly more efficient for larger-scale events or for people that meet a lot of new people. But I work in quite a small/focused sector of research, and there are actually very few times where I need more than a couple of cards at once.

  5. love the personalisation bit. i’ve never actually met anyone else that had Bump installed, so i gave in last week and made my own cards. You’ve inspired me to scribble on them though

  6. I’ve written about this a couple of times, but my favourite business card idea comes from Ji Lee:

  7. Another potential drawback…. “does anyone have a pen?”

  8. I always have a pen!

    And thanks for the additional ideas. Again, for me, I don’t need that many so I’d need to be able to self-design/print my cards. Ordering a boxload from a designer/printer means I end up throwing 95% away

  9. Well, this article is the best on this noteworthy topic. I agree with your conclusions and anxiously look forward to your future updates. Saying thank you will not be enough, for the tremendous lucidity in your writing. I’ll immediately grab your rss feed to stay abreast of any updates. Solid work and much success in your business enterprise!

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