5 Reasons Why Business Cards Still Matter

Uncover the history and enduring qualities of this networking essential
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Before exploring why business cards are still as relevant as ever, let’s go back in time. Way back.

The jury’s still out on their exact origin. Both China and France lay claim to having invented early “calling” or “visiting” cards used during social visits dating back as far as the late 16th Century. In Europe, these early forms of asserting social status were used by the wealthy elite to request meetings with other members of the upper class. And, not surprisingly, by their servants to announce a distinguished guest’s arrival at their stately home. In mid-17th Century London, people right across the social spectrum had adopted these cards. At that time, not all streets had names or numbers, so “trade cards” with maps and directions were essential to show customers how to find a store or workshop.

One thing for sure is that business cards show no signs of becoming obsolete, even after more than 300 years. Despite numerous advances in technology, including mobile applications that create and manage digital business cards, the physical version is as popular as ever.

So, in a digital age, why are paper business cards still so relevant?

These five timeless qualities could be the secret to the business card’s stubborn longevity. 

  1. Direct & personal
  2. Direct and personal business cards

    Networking is about making authentic and longstanding connections. Although sending contact information through text or email is convenient, it’s also quite impersonal. Handing over your business card while maintaining eye contact and conversation is a much more personal approach. First impressions count, and your business card etiquette is one of the most influential factors in creating rapport with people the first time you meet.

  3. Reliable
  4. Reliable business cards

    Phone batteries die. And this only worsens as your device slows with age and countless software updates. Annoyingly, your battery tends to fail when you need access to your digital information on the go. Business cards don’t suffer this fate. And since they don’t require batteries or a reliable 4G connection, they work for you round the clock.

  5. Tangible
  6. Tangible business cards
    Your business card serves as a personal reminder that doesn’t get lost in the digital clutter of social media posts and endless emails. The exchange of business cards is a valuable interaction between you and new contacts and often acts as your introduction. The physical characteristics of your card, like texture and paper weight, influence the associations people have with your company in the same way you may subconsciously judge someone by their handshake when you meet.
  7. Universal
  8. Business cards used universally
    People still expect business cards. Regardless of where you travel on business, the humble business card is a crucial element in the exchange of professional details and for creating the right impression with new colleagues, partners and providers. Before travelling anywhere, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with business etiquette in your destination as it may differ to what people expect at home. In some cultures, it’s customary to accept a business card with two hands and study it closely, while other places have a more casual attitude to how you hand out and receive cards.
  9. Professional
  10. Professional looking business card
    A memorable business card does a lot more than just share your email address or phone number. It communicates the qualities of your brand and what you stand for as a business owner. Handing over your card expresses more confidence and pride in what you do than haphazardly scribbling details on a napkin or typing eyes-down into your phone. Your card gives your business legitimacy and shows that you’re serious about what you do. Remember, networking can happen anywhere. You might meet helpful contacts during parties, on trips, or at other social events.

    As Jeff Nulsen, VP of Product at Vistaprint, points out, “LinkedIn and smartphones do a good job of serving the functional need of helping you network and trade information, but neither competes with the emotional and social jobs that business cards deliver. These often tend to be the jobs people have the hardest time with. When you create a business card, you’re not only buying a piece of paper with your logo and contact information on it. You’re projecting your company and personal image for the world to see.”

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