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.
- 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.