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Business Card Etiquette: Networking Tips and Tricks

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In a scene from the 2000 film American Psycho – a cult classic that launched Christian Bale’s career – there is an indelible scene where four professionals compare each other’s business cards with life-and-death seriousness. As they go around the table dropping thin pieces of cardboard, the main character is overwhelmed with anxiety and dread knowing that his business card is not as wonderful as he first thought. Although American Psycho is certainly not an accurate reference point for today’s young professional, the proliferation of design-your-own business card companies has created a situation where people are creating and fretting over custom business cards in record numbers. This is not a bad thing. At a networking event, it is always helpful to leave your name as well as your business card with a potential employer. The key is to make sure that your business card continues to make a good impression well after you’re gone.

This blog post provides some tips and tricks on how to design a business card that will help catch the eye of a possible employer, potential client, or future colleague.

Cheaper Isn’t Necessarily Better

Although a high-concept business card design that costs $30 a unit is completely unnecessary, it is worthwhile to spend a little bit more money to get a business card that’s made using thick stock or has a matted or glossy design. Although you might be spending an extra few pennies per card, this expense is completely worthwhile. The whole point of a business card is to provide the person you give it to with a tangible way to remember your name, your brand, and your personality. A flimsy business card is like a limp, cold-palmed handshake: it does more harm than good.

Keep Your Business Card Simple

A business card is typically 3.5” by 2”, that’s not a lot of space to work with. Although you can get custom cards printed in larger or smaller sizes, we advise against this. If your business card cannot fit easily into a wallet then you are practically inviting people to throw it away. If your card is standard size, it’s important to make sure your logo is adequately sized and your contact information is easy to read. Micro-fonts might be all the rage in your industry but a business card with unreadable text is like an inkless pen: useless. When designing your card, it’s also important to take the aesthetics of your industry into consideration. If you work in advertising, media sales, or web design, a less clichéd design might be welcome. However, if you’re slugging it out in engineering, law, accounting or medicine, a conservative design is likely the way to go. Don’t be that guy or girl who hands out a hot pink, octagon-shaped card to the HR department of PWC.

Choose Your Contact Information Carefully

Twitter Profile? Facebook Page? Some of these might make sense to include on your business card dependent upon your industry. However, if you’re an engineer it’s unlikely that business contacts will be interested in looking at the meticulously photographed meals that you regularly post to Instagram. When in doubt, stick to the basics: e-mail address, phone number, fax number (if you’re in law or a similarly slow-to-change field), your company’s website and business address.

Get a Graphic Designer

If you have the necessary budget, it might be worthwhile to contact a freelance designer to help you come up with a design that will really catch the eye of potential employers without overpowering them with tacky artwork. You can find freelance designers online who are often willing to do this kind of work for a couple hundred of dollars. Although that might sound expensive for a business card design, the designer will likely come up with a logo and brand identity that you can use over and over again on other materials.

We hope this blog post provided you with some worthwhile information and helps you on your career hunt or at future networking events. Just remember not to imitate Christian Bale and take the process too seriously.

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