How to Use Personal Business Cards

Innovation and advancement in the technological age have certainly managed to replace a variety of tools we previously considered useful.  Car phones are bygone relics that serve only to date cheesy 80’s movies.  Typewriters may be romantic decorations for a home office, but they rarely see any actual use when laptop computers are faster and more efficient. Even AOL Instant Messenger is now facing its final days.

There are a few classics, however, that simply can’t be replaced.  While social media, sharing of cell phone and email numbers and professional networking sites are great ways to share contact information, none of these have managed to prove as ubiquitous in their usage as the personal business card.  Having originated in Victorian times, perhaps it’s more sentimentality than actual efficiency that has managed to keep these antiquated cardboard slips in play.  Whatever the case, personal business cards are a useful tool in your job search arsenal.  Here we discuss how to use business cards to land a job, network and more.

What’s in a Card?

First thing’s first: in order to use a personal business card you must have a personal business card and preferably one that’s professional and noteworthy.  While the 3 by 2-inch dimensions don’t leave a heck of a lot of room for an in-depth resume, including your name, email, phone number and the basic professional information is definitely a must.  

Unlike business cards issued by an employer, think beyond a traditional title below your name.  This noteworthy space on your business card should include a brief description of your relevant skills that helps paint a picture of your qualifications and career goals.  Whether currently employed, in the middle of a job search or working as an independent contractor, a short sentence beneath your name that describes your current or desired level will help sell your skills.

Consider these examples for maximum personal business card efficacy:

  • Experienced writer with a knack for humor
  • Professional architect featuring years of portfolio experience
  • Financial planner with proven growth track record
  • Highly motivated entry-level professional

Stand Out from the Crowd

While the typical business card can be a bit, well, forgettable, personal business cards are under no such constraints.  Business cards for realtors typically include a small headshot on the face or in one of the corners.  Including this is a handy way to help someone you’ve met personally put a face to a name when they inevitably come across your contact card after a meeting or event.

If you’re in a field that embraces creativity, use that fact to your advantage and make your business cards stand out from the crowd.  Artists should consider including one or more of their images as their personal business card background.  Inventive (but readable) fonts and colors are also great ways to ensure your contact info isn’t lost in a sea of white and pale grey cards from your peers.  The inclusion of a meaningful and appropriate personal motto or saying is also a great way to help your card get noticed.  Although the exact layout and ability to include extras will vary based on your profession, getting noticed in a tasteful and appropriate manner on your personal business card is a great way to help your networking and job-seeking chances.

When and Where to Use

Once your substance and design are set, it’s time to get to handing out those personal business cards.  Get into the habit of carrying several cards on you at all times.  You never know when you will run into someone who may have the ability to help boost your career.  If you will be attending a networking event or other function where you are likely to run into a large number of people, be sure to pad that number and carry a few extra cards to give away.  

It can be offputting to lead with a business card when you first meet someone, not to mention you’ll probably end up wasting a good deal of trees as a high percentage of your personal missives will most likely end up in the trash.  Instead, reserve personal business cards for the end of a conversation when there is a clear case for exchanging contact information or an invitation to keep in touch.  Cards handed out at this point will be much more useful, meaningful and will get a bigger impact in the memorability department.

Remember that personal business cards aren’t a substitute for good networking skills, follow up with industry peers or a well-developed resume and professional networking profile.  Think of your cards as another tool in your arsenal for maintaining an active job hunt.  After all, there’s a reason these tiny slips of paper have managed to outlive petticoats, tricorn hats, powdered wigs and other Victorian-era fads.  Although, we wouldn’t mind seeing a comeback of those fancy buckle shoes in the workplace.

Article Updated from the Original on December 12th, 2017