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I believe business cards remain a relevant tool for business if you value human connection and understand the tactile nature of a premium business card.

I enjoyed reading the comments on LinkedIn recently when one of my connections proposed the idea that inviting someone to connect on LinkedIn could replace using a business card.

As a specialist LinkedIn trainer I have a little chuckle to myself when I see how people ‘bite’ when these sorts of contentious posts are placed on LinkedIn. They are in fact a way for the individual to drive traffic to their profile through attracting likes and comments.

It’s a practice I’m seeing more and more on LinkedIn, especially with the introduction of the LinkedIn video feature.

I digress.

Your Personal Context will Always Influence Your Opinion

The view you hold about the value of a business card versus simply connecting on LinkedIn instead will depend on where you are coming from, and be influenced by a number of key factors including:

  • your age
  • the region you work in
  • the industry you work in
  • how you use LinkedIn
  • how digitally literate you choose to be
  • how much you value human connection
  • your approach to building business relationships

5 Reasons Why Business Cards Still Matter in a Digital World

In this Entrepreneur article Jonathon Long gives his 5 reasons why he thinks business cards still matter and why you should have a pocket full of them at all times. His five reasons are:

  1. Swapping contact information digitally is impersonal.
  2. They are the most effective direct marketing tools.
  3. A business card is the first impression of your brand.
  4. Creative business cards get shared – continuing to market for you.
  5. Business cards show you are prepared.

And I’m sure I could easily find you another article that gives 5 other reasons why business cards are less relevant.

It’s all about the context, knowing your market and understanding the cultural nuances and what is appropriate.

Jonathon Long says his goal is to create a memorable first impression and believes a unique business card will actually fuel the conversation even further.

I agree. I’m personally old school (a trait my clients value and trust) and use the exchange of business cards as a wonderful way to learn more about how the owner of the business card thinks. I enjoy getting to know the contacts I meet and appreciate that many people have been personally involved in the creation of their logo design, card shape, thickness and any embossing or special treatment on their business card. Asking them about their logo and colour choices for the card is actually something many people care about.

My printer talked me into an embossing treatment on my logo for my business cards. Every time I hand over my card people turn it over, comment on Think Bespoke’s logo and rub their thumb over the embossed treatment.

Given that my target clients are thoughtful decision makers who value quality and good manners, it is essential that my business card helps create this first impression. The very fact that I’ve bothered to invest in a high quality business card that is full colour with embossed treatment tells my clients a lot about me. I then use my online tools, like my LinkedIn Profile, Instagram profile and Twitter profile to provide more evidence of my personal brand and values.

Am I alone in believing the business card still has value?

I captured a few of the comments from the discussion over at LinkedIn, as there were some very interesting perspectives shared in the 176 comments left. I only read 10 or so.

  • Given the very low cost of quality business cards these days, and the multiplicity of ways in which they can be put to use, I believe that they are still a useful tool and are still expected in many quarters. Having said that, I agree that connecting immediately on LinkedIn (where ever and when ever that is physically possible) is a great habit to develop, and will deliver greater long term benefits.
  • My LinkedIn profile URL is listed on my business card for people to connect with me, as well as my website, email address, and phone number. I left a few cards around tables at a recent startup event and got a call the same day from someone who picked up the card and called me to translate their website for them. I am still a believer in business cards and tangible marketing materials.
  • Really? So LinkedIn has all the information for a direct telephone number, and email address. No – you have to send request, get them to accept, and then message them and hope that they reply to that message to get their direct information and then send them another email with the information you wanted to share. In my personal opinion that is not good time management!
  • I just came back from a conference that I was an expert panel speaker on branding in Los Angeles and it was on New Modern Media … I was asked for a business card by everyone I met there. People actually cared about the business card design; colours, business name and the slogan it has – what’s in it for the audience. Maybe, I am the old school, however the foundation of a brand hasn’t changed, because of digital format and technology, I might add.
  • Hong Kong handshake
  • This post makes sense in certain markets but totally lacks an understanding of how business and communication practice differs across cultures
  • There are many things that you cannot do away at this point of time (generation) and business cards is one of them. 
  • At most networking events I go to these days there is one person who no longer has business cards. Everything we do in business today is digital – sending mail, signing contracts, attending meetings, even networking. The business card is one thing that digital will not fully replace anytime soon.

What do you think?

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