Business cards: Don’t leave home without ‘em

I went to a networking event last week and once again ran into a phenomenon I find inexplicable even after having encountered it dozens of times: someone who came out to network without business cards.

The excuses I’ve heard are varied, from the totally lame, “Oh, I forgot my cards” to the less lame but still unacceptable, “Oh, I just started my business and haven’t had cards made yet.”

I’ve met people who have been in business for literally years who make the mistake of not always having their business cards at the ready. Even worse, I’ve met people who have been in business for a long time who haven’t bothered to get cards made! Duh! These often are artsy folks who for some reason are loathe to accept the business aspect of their work–the part where they can avoid the starving artist label by actually selling their work.

Times have changed

The first–and I do mean the first–thing anyone starting a business should do is order business cards. Aside from the essential information contained on the card, the very fact that you have a business card tells people you’re serous about your endeavor.

Years ago, it did, in fact, take a few weeks and some ready cash to have business cards designed and printed. Back then the excuse that you hadn’t gotten around to getting cards made yet was somewhat acceptable.

But those days are history. Now you can quickly design a card yourself online at sources like and have them arrive at your door in a few days, all for less than $30. (Check out their mini-cards; I started using them a couple years ago and people love them. I chose a stock photo for ink pens for one side of the card, which seemed apropos for a writer. Or you can do what one of my PR friends did and put of a photo of yourself on your card. This makes the card hugely helpful to people…they only have to look at your photo to remember exactly which of the 10 new people they met at the Chamber meeting was you.)

Or, quicker still, you can go to Staples and buy business card stock for under $20 and print your own. Voila! Business cards in less than a day! Granted, these probably won’t be something you’ll want to use for the long term, but at least they’ll do until you can have the “real” thing done.

No excuse

For those who already have business cards but somehow manage to forget to bring them to networking events, I can only ask, “What the heck are you thinking?” What kind of impression do you think it makes about your professionalism if someone asks for your card and you search around through your suit pockets or your purse in vain and are finally forced to admit you don’t have a card on you? How well organized does it make you look? And if the shoe is on the other foot and someone is standing in front of you making excuses for not having a card and asking if they can write down their info on the back of one of your cards, are you anxious to do business with them? Probably not.

Networking events aren’t the only place you should always be armed with your business cards. The fact is that you never know where you might run into someone who should have your card. My personal policy is that I take my cards with me everywhere. When my card case gets empty, I refill it immediately. ( sells a nifty tiny white case for their cards; it fits in any pocket  and it’s so nicely designed it attracts attention all by itself.)

A business card says so much more than just here’s where you can call me or e-mail me. It says I am a business person who takes pride in my professionalism and I’m someone who is well organized and prepared to do business.

We all know what they about first impressions…you only get one chance to make a good one. Make sure yours is a positive impression by having your business cards at the ready at all times.

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