My Card!

Have Gun – Will Travel reads the card of man.”  So went the lines of the theme song (and title) to the popular western starring Richard Boone as Paladin, a soldier of fortune and gun for hire that ran on CBS from 1957 through 1963.  Here was a guy who liberally passed out business cards in the late 1800’s!  The business card was an indispensable promotional tool, even way back then!   And there is evidence of them being used as early as the mid 1700’s!
So why was it that on a recent visit to the wine country of Northern California, a prominent tour guide was chatting up a gallery owner, a restaurateur, and his own customers without a business card to lend credibility and aid memorability?  Here was an independent service provider in the process of networking, trying to explain to potential business associates who he was and what he could do for them, without anything to present that would have helped these potential business “partners” remember him and find him.
When I asked the tour guide why he didn’t have cards to present, he said he had cards but wasn’t carrying them, and that he really didn’t like them.  It wasn’t that he didn’t like using business cards, he just didn’t like the cards he had printed.  And, having new cards designed seemed like too much of a bother!  So on this day, and probably most others when he was out showing people around, he would receive requests for business cards and not be carrying any to provide the identification and retention customers and business contacts expect.
Yes, today business people can enter information into smart phones and personal information managers (PIM’s) with relative ease. But these electronic devices detract from the personal connection being made from the passing of a business card from one hand to another.  Interrupting the flow of conversation so you can enter information into your phone inhibits establishing a personal connection that takes place when you pass out your card.  Even if your phone is itself a conversation piece, it takes quite a few seconds to have someone recite their name and contact info while you enter it into a phone or PIM, and those few seconds distract your conversation and communication.
As smart as some of these gadgets are, some don’t allow – or their owners don’t use – the categorization tools that make finding a contact’s information quick and easy.  A prospective client or customer may remember that you are a tour guide, but if they can’t remember your name, they’ll have a very hard time finding you when they need you.  But when they associate you with your card, they have multiple visual cues to help them recall who you are and what you do.  Numbers scrolling by in a phone do not have that same level of impact.
Presenting your card is the first step in helping others learn and retain information about you.  When handing your card to another, you can indicate your preference for how they can best reach you, or set an appointment time, and even note that on the back of the card.  You can also supplement your basic contact info with additional details about your services or products, office hours, etc.
Whether your card is a simple design with basic contact details, or an elaborate graphic display printed on both sides with a fold, make certain that the card is appropriate to represent what you do.  Choose readable fonts and type styles. Present your card with a smile on your face and indicate you welcome the opportunity to follow up and maintain a long-term business relationship.
Whether you’re looking for a job or working for yourself, keep a small stack of cards with you at all times, and pass them out liberally.   Business Cards are a valuable tool that has stood the test of time!  Have Card – Will Travel!
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