We recently had a discussion about business cards on the Christian Communicators Graduates’ Yahoo loop. That discussion lead to more one-on-one communication, which led to the realization that it’d be a good idea to write a blog post about business cards. After all, those tiny little cards are often the only thing event planners have to remind them of you.
So here’s my 13-point checklist for business cards that work.
1. The objective glance. The business card creates an instant first impression, so its importance can’t be ignored. Take a fresh look at your current card by holding it at a distance and squinting through objective eyes. Don’t focus on the words or the details that are included. Instead, just kind of squint as you take in the overall look of the card. Is it too crowded? Too parse? Too colorful? Too bland?
What to include:
2. Your headshot. I know first-hand that what I’m about to tell you is true. A business card without a photo is often just another piece of paper. When I teach at conferences or attend gatherings, I often receive a lot of business cards. A lot. It’s not unusual to leave the conference with 50 or more cards! Yes, we may have had a wonderful conversation, but there were perhaps a hundred similar conversations with others as well. And let’s face it, my memory just isn’t what it used to be. And neither is the memory of that agent or editor or event planner. When you have a recent photo that looks like you, the holder of the card is much more likely to remember who you are and the conversation you had. But be sure it’s a recent shot…one that actually looks like you.
3. Your name. Be sure the name on your card is what you go by, not simply the name you were given at birth. I have a friend named Angela, but she goes by Joy. If she had a meeting with me and introduced herself as Joy and I had a conversation with her as Joy, that is the name I will remember her by. But if I get home and can’t find a card with the name Joy, I’m very likely to be confused about who she is.
4. Your website. Be sure to list your website with capitals, if possible. I’m not a technical guru, so if there’s a question, check with your webmaster. But it makes it much easier for people to read and remember your website with capitals: www.VondaSkelton.com.
5. Your email address. Create a professional email address. firstname.lastname@example.org may be cute for your family email, but it can negatively affect your credibility as a professional. Your name at your website address works well. Your name at Gmail works well, too.
6. Your phone number. You don’t necessarily need both a home and a mobile number, but you DO need a number where you can be reached easily and that you’ll check several times a day. I rarely list my home number because if someone leaves a message on that phone, other family members may retrieve the message and I may never know about it!
7. You DON’T have to include your street address. We used to recommend leaving off home addresses for safety reasons, but in today’s world, a bad guy can find our addresses, check out our streets, and view our front doors within seconds. Reality is that snail mail is rarely used anymore. If you feel you need an address, you may want to get a P.O Box.
8. Your business name. If you have a business name other than your own name, be sure to include it on your card.
9. Your social media info. If you have space, you may want to include your social media listings.
10. Font. Be sure the font is easy to read and not too small. A script style may not be your best option.
11. Shape and size. I’ve seen a lot of unique business cards in a variety of shapes and sizes. And even though the unique shapes and sizes are interesting and memorable, I wonder if veering from the norm can bring about some unexpected problems. For one thing, non-standard shapes and sizes don’t fit into prepared business card sheets or into stacks of cards in desk drawers. Even in this digital age, many still enjoy old school organization.
12. Paper finish. Do you write notes on business cards? I certainly do. And so do many others. After meeting with people, I’ll likely flip the card over and write notes to myself about their projects, reminders about something I’m supposed to follow up on, or additional information about talents or interests. If cards are finished in a slick, glossy coating, it’s impossible to write these important notes on them.
13. Colors. Be sure your colors are a good representation of you and your brand. A visual theme carried from your website to your one-sheet to your business cards often works well. And remember that very dark colors don’t allow the receiver to write on the cards.
So there it is, 13 things to consider as you consider your business card. You want to make a good first impression. A stylish, legible, interesting business card with necessary information will go a long way to making you look professional and ready to work.
From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward. Proverbs 12:14
Grace and peace,
(Photo courtesy of tungphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)