Some sources suggest the practice of trading business cards dates back almost
400 years to a time when the aristocracy traded visiting cards as a form of
introduction. Today, the exchange of business cards is well engrained in
professional circles, and ordering business cards is one of the first tasks
completed when beginning a new job. Until recently, these cards were typically
of a conservative design; while some might have had raised lettering or unusual
fonts, very few were printed with colors.
Today the Internet and improved printing techniques provide a wide range
of design and color choices for our business cards. And because many of our
introductions now take place online, some card suppliers are linking our cards
to our online activity. For example, if you want to promote your social media
profiles, such as your LinkedIn profile, Zazzle offers cards with a social
media theme. (More on this company later.)
Including social media profile links on your card makes it easier for other
professionals you meet to find you online. And your connection through a social
media site will still function whether you stay with your current employer or
not. So even if you change jobs and your card becomes obsolete, the link to your
One of my favorite business card companies is MOO, a company founded in 2004. Through their website, anyone
can easily and quickly create incredible cards with a photo on one side and
contact information on the other. Because you can use up to 50 photos of your
own, you can choose to highlight photos from projects you have completed
throughout the year. Then when you pass out your card, not only are you sharing
your contact information, but you have left an image of your product. As an
example, below are the images of one of the cards I had printed. One side shows
a photo of a 3D environment (in this case, not created by me) and the other
shows the back side of the card with my contact information.
While the images create a positive impression, one other benefit I cannot
adequately convey here is the feel of the cards. They are made of a
high-quality, smooth paper stock that's heavier than traditional cards. The
company offers standard sizes and smaller sizes called mini-cards. And last
week, the company announced a new product developed through a partnership with
Facebook to create cards based on Facebook's timeline feature. By following the
instructions on the MOO blog, people can now create a set of cards that emulate
the Facebook header. Contact information is then placed on the back of the card.
To promote these new cards, MOO offered the first 200,000 customers a free pack
of 50 cards. (As of Jan 8, this offer was still open because I was able to order
a pack for free.)
Although I use MOO to print my cards, other companies offer similar choices.
customers designs for many different themes or industries. Customers can also
upload their own images, although Vistaprint does not seem to have the same
ability as MOO to offer multiple images in the same pack of cards. But the
prices reflect this —
Vistaprint cards cost less than MOO cards.
Another great site is Zazzle.com. I normally visit the site for customized t-shirts
and coffee mugs, but they also offer custom business cards at prices comparable
to those found at Vistaprint. Here's a link to cards with the
company's construction theme: http://www.zazzle.com/construction+businesscards. You can also
design your own theme. On most of the cards offered, all you have to do is fill
in your own profile information.
In the end, it doesn't really matter where or how you get your business
cards, but it is important to use those cards to promote your social media
links. In this economy your online profiles may be more permanent than your
contact information at your current job.