For almost as long as there have been internet tech startups, there have been people trying to kill the business card. While the inefficient, environmentally dubious practice of exchanging a piece of dead tree with someone else definitely needs to end, I’m increasingly convinced that some clever piece of proprietary technology just isn’t needed.
None of the ‘we’ll replace business cards’ apps have ever taken off because they generally require a critical mass of users that it’s incredibly hard to accumulate. Still, at some point around 18 months ago I stopped taking cards to events with me and opted for something far simpler and more meaningful.
Whenever I meet someone who I want to talk to again in the future, I ask for their email address and I email them right there and then from my phone. It’s just a quick ‘Hi, good to meet you at…’ but that’s all it needs to be.
This immediately creates the electronic connection that physical business cards lack, meaning the other person doesn’t have to manually enter my contact details into their phone or computer at a later date.
Also, as I’m in their inbox immediately, we’re more likely to keep in touch. I don’t know about you, but when I return from a conference with a pile of business cards, the last thing I want to do is spend time processing them all, even if there are some apps, like FullContact, that can help with the process.
Of course, it takes a little longer than exchanging cards, but I find immediately sending an email says a lot more about your intention to stay in touch.
There are some cultures, such as in parts of Asia, where exchanging cards is so tightly woven into business etiquette that this alternative would never fly, but if you can, why not try it? It’s freed me from the chore of handling other people’s cards, and having to buy and carry them myself.
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