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Business Cards: An Owner's Manual
In the middle of a particularly challenging day at work, have you ever found yourself wishing that certain things in your professional life came with operating instructions? Well, we can help out with one of those conundrums - business cards.
The basic role of a business card is to provide a quick and
effective method for distributing your professional contact
information. A closer study reveals a higher purpose they
serve in your professional life-they are an extension of who
you are, and they help you to send signals about your
industry, employer, product or service. But, many of us have
a love/hate relationship with our business cards because they
raise more questions than they answer: how should they look
and feel; what information should be included; when do we use
them; how many should be distributed??
In today's fast-paced, and often informal, business environments, much of the protocol associated with business cards may seem out-dated or unnecessary, but learning the basics will help you to feel more confident and comfortable whenever you reach for your card. In order to show that you are a polished professional, you must learn the rituals and nuances of the business card exchange.? When armed with that knowledge, you may then begin to adapt the rituals to fit your industry and personal style.
Make & Model
A business card should project the image that you want for yourself and for your industry, company, product or service. If you work in a field where tradition, regulation and a conservative philosophy are mainstays of the corporate culture, then a conservative card-black lettering printed or engraved on a heavy, white card stock-will help you to reinforce that image. If art, design or cutting-edge technology is your #1 product, the use of color, graphics or die-cut shapes may help you to get your message across.
But a word of caution before allowing your creativity to run wild. The standard size for business cards in most North American, Latin American and European business communities is 3 1/2 x 2 inches.? When you deviate from this standard, you run the risk that your card will be incompatible with scanning and vCard technology and that it won't fit into the card wallets, folders and binders that many people use to organize the cards they receive. Odd-shaped, over-sized or folded cards may attract attention, but they can be a nuisance to manage.
The standard information to include on your card is your name, title, company name, address, contact numbers (telephone, fax, mobile) and email address. Many business professionals choose to include their logo and web site address, as well. You may want to consider printing a social card or an alternate business card to present in circumstances when it would be undesirable or inappropriate to give your office contact information. This idea also allows you to explore a more creative look for your card, one that showcases your personality or your interests more than a traditional business card can do.?
If you want to stand out in some way when presenting your business card, think about the method as much as the message--extracting your card from a show-stopper card case that is handsome, unique or colorful or saying your name or your company's name in such a way that it will be remembered.
Care and Maintenance
Business cards have a shelf life.? Examine your cards periodically and weed out the ones that look tired.
Tips and Techniques
International Translation ?
What is the difference between a business card and an advertising flyer?? If you don't know, please continue reading. A business card is not an overt advertisement for you or your business and is not distributed in the manner of a flyer. The primary purpose of a business card is to present your contact information and, ideally, that is done after you have made a connection with the recipient. Don't confuse yourself with a Texas Hold 'Em dealer when you attend meetings, conferences, receptions, or other networking events. It is not your goal to place your card in every outstretched hand within close proximity. When you do so, you are perceived as someone who is trying too hard and is desperate for business, contacts or attention.?And, steer clear of promotional gimmicks disguised as business cards. I recently saw an ad for cards that included a teeny, tiny resume printed on the back. Don't get me started...
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