The swapping of business cards in corporate America and the world at large is an age-old practice. And there’s a reason why companies spend a small fortune on business cards: they get your foot in the door, and can even convey a level of sophistication, professionalism, and expertise in the few moments you might have to make an impression. Every day, businesses and individuals try to outdo each other by swapping even sleeker business cards.
But with so much at our disposal in the digital world and so many moving away from paper, some people wonder if it isn’t just an outdated tradition. What is it about the business card that gives it the edge to stay relevant? Why is this how we build our professional relationships? Is it just that we’ve developed a centuries-old tradition?
We certainly have, but the biggest reason is much simpler: they still work.
The Role of the Business Card
The look and feel of the business card have seen some evolution since the days of calling cards, and over the centuries since they came into use, societies have absorbed them into business culture. The conduct and customs revolving around the exchange of business cards in professional networking similarly vary in different locales.
But the purpose is very simple: to quickly convey professional contact information during the brief amount of time you might have to make a connection in the business world. Even with modern solutions like Covve’s professional networking platform, the ease and efficiency of the traditional business card exchange is tough to rival, as they go on to discuss further in their blog. And with so many potential leads and contacts within our reach and the addition of email and social media as means of getting in touch with them, we actually have more people and information to work with, and seemingly less time to do it.
The fact that even the tech sector continues to embrace the exchange of business cards seems to suggest that even today, such a simple solution continues to be worth its weight.
A Tangible Representation
There is also a hidden advantage that the business card has in our digital world: it’s a physical, but unobtrusive, representation of the person you just met. That’s right: the same thing that makes them seem anachronistic is actually part of why they continue to be so effective. But it’s not so hard to see, just think about the last first-contact email you deleted and the last business card you threw away. Survey says you at least looked at the business card one last time, and that it was that much more of a conscious decision to let that person go. Likewise, an otherwise perfect stranger could walk into your office and if their business card made it into your hands at least once, you’re a lot more likely to receive them…even if you don’t remember the specifics of the initial meeting. There’s just something more, well, concrete about the exchange of business cards over less physical, and less personal, methods of networking. And that can give you an edge, not just with getting your foot in the door, but with establishing trust in a potential business relationship.
Because It’s All about Trust
It absolutely is all about trust, from the first meeting to the last. When it comes to that first networking opportunity, you’re going to find that people come to trust what they see and feel more readily than what they get in their inboxes. And you only have a moment to lay the foundation for building the trust you need to turn a potential contact into a business partnership. While it’s not always feasible to get that moment face-to-face, the goal should be to shake hands, and exchange business cards.
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