It has often been said that the current state of our technology practically eliminates the need for words printed on paper. Of course, if you’re involved in modern business you know that this isn’t entirely true. There will always be certain circumstances in which something printed is better than a purely digital copy. Deeds and contracts often have a printed element, and sometimes printing something out is simply more practical than sending it as an email. Among all the important documents, few consider the humble business card. This simple rectangle of stiff cardstock hold your name, occupation, contact information, and perhaps a call to action or catch-phrase to inspire recipients to call or email. But in the age of smartphones and contact lists, do we still need them?
Oddly enough, the answer is yes. The business card was designed and has survived this long for a reason and technology has yet to effectively replace its purpose. The business card can be passed from person to person without hassle or even stopping to read the contents, serving as a reminder of a new contact or plans made. Here are the four biggest reasons why you still need business cards even if both you and your contact own smartphones.
1) Trading Phones is a Hassle
The first and most persuasive argument for keeping your stack of business cards on hand is the process by which people enter new contact information into their phones. This is a ritual everyone is familiar with and we’ve all had to do it at least a few times. There are a few variations of the exchange including trading phones and figuring out another’s UI to punch in your information, trading one number then texting each other, or both carefully listing their numbers and spelling their names out. In other words, a total hassle. While the digital and mobile innovations may have made trading already digital information at lightning speed, meeting someone new almost always involved a little tedious data entry.
But wait, we’ve already come up with a fast, convenient technology for handing off contact information in an instant. Trading business cards is both simple and efficient. It can happen in the moment, when you’re meeting a bunch of new people, or when you’re saying goodbye at the end of a conversation. Business cards are easy to pass over in a handshake, present with amusing flare, or even slip to someone in a covert situation. Then each person can take their own time later to read and enter the information into their contacts list.
2) All the Pertinent Information
Let’s face it, smartphones just aren’t ready to take over the role of business cards yet. While some social apps are making it easier to connect, not everyone has the same app and there are always misconnections due to very similar names. And if you’re entering the contact in manually, the amount of time it takes to trade and then thumb-type the information into each other’s phones is excessive. Especially if you need to convey several lines of detailed information. But that’s what the business card does best. Rather than rattling off your two contact numbers, spelling out your email address, and ensuring that your new contact could find your office if they need to, the business card takes care of all of that. There are even apps now that can quickly scan or snap a picture of a business card and enter the information into your contacts.
Of course, your contact information may not actually be everything you want to convey to a new connection. You may also want to easily associate your name with a business, service, opportunity or attitude that will help them remember you and your reason for connecting. The design of a business card can convey much more than a simple name in a contacts list.
3) Passing Special Notes
There is one unique feature of business cards that almost no one thinks of but we all use fairly regularly. The ability to write notes on them. If you have a private phone number you don’t share much, directions to a great restaurant, or a special access code you’d like to share with your new contact, the business card is there for you. There are so many instances where you might want to send some circumstantial message with a new contact whether it’s about business, a personal connection, or just where the best local Thai food is. These little sturdy paper cards give you something that is easy to both write on and pass to a new friend along with all the contact information they need to get in touch with you again or check back on the details of the note.
4) Meeting on an Adventure
One of the best things about business cards is their versatility. By carrying a small stack of them anywhere, you could meet someone for two seconds and still have effectively made a business contact if they take your card and call you later. Or you can have several hours of enjoyable conversation and use the business cards to smoothly trade numbers. Business cards are great for on-site meetings, quiet places where phones aren’t welcome, and adventures where one or both parties wound up without a phone. They can be written on for notes, handed to someone to pass on to another person, they can be shared around a group, and you can even use them to ask someone on a date if you’re both very smooth and in a hurry.
In other words, business cards are still incredibly useful. Knowing exactly where and when to offer a business card shows off your versatility and can smooth over a number of rushed or opportunistic connections. Smartphones, while essential to modern business, have not yet managed to replace the ease of use, versatility, and convenience of a simple stack of business cards. Digital may have taken the place of print media in many ways, but when it comes to trading contact information, nothing has yet to beat the subtle power of the business card.