In these days of BlackBerrys (Nasdaq: RIMM - News) and e-mail contact lists, the humble paper business card may look like a relic. Does passing them out signal you as hopelessly behind the curve?
Not at all. In a world where so much communication happens electronically, the business card remains a valuable, tangible way to promote yourself and your company. The key is to produce cards that are memorable and informative, ones that can instantly sum up your brand in a glance.
While social media may get all the press hype, the vast majority of business interaction in this country still takes place face to face. Most business owners still interact with potential customers and partners personally at Chamber of Commerce events, the local Rotary Club or informal social gatherings.
In all those instances, exchanging business cards remains a primary way to formalize your interaction. It helps the person you've met remember your name and the name of your business -- sealing the deal, if you will. (How often have you been introduced to someone, only to forget their name within minutes?)
In the best-case scenario, the person you meet keeps your card and adds you to their list of contacts, either by putting the card in a Rolodex or scanning it into an electronic database (the card itself will probably get tossed, but by then it has served its purpose). Either way, the card helped cement you and your business in the mind of the person you met.
Business cards may be a tried-and-true marketing device, but that's not to say they haven't changed with the times. For a look at recent trends, browse The Business Card group on Flickr or go to Cardonizer, where users have posted stylish, creative examples.
The key is to keep your cards looking up-to-date but not overcrowded. Cards these days cram ever more information into a small space -- in addition to the company name, address, phone number and email address, some people are adding their company's website, Facebook fan page link and Twitter stream. The result? A visually confusing mess.