Should You Kill Your Business Card And Go Virtual At Offline Networking Events?
( You can watch the video above or if you don’t have time you can read my summary below. )
After hitting up a few networking events and meetup groups this year, I found myself carrying less and less business cards around. Laziness? Not really. Something interesting happens at these events as I’m exchanging contact information. Instead of making up excuses for not having a business card I would ask the person I was networking with if they were on Twitter or Facebook. Their face would glow and they would respond “YES!!..friend me up and lets connect!”
This did two things. One, it distracted them from saying to themselves, ” Wow!! How could he come to an event like this with no business cards?”. Two, I notice talking about being on a social network excites most people because they get a chance to build their online social network offline. Most people at the events I attend have profiles setup through Facebook ,Twitter and LinkedIn already. So to add more people into their online social community is like adding brown gravy onto mashed potatoes. It becomes really good for them!
Unlike business cards most people will immediately visit your social networks when they get behind a computer. I know I do. They get to learn more about you by viewing your profiles and continuing the process of adding you into their social network community.
This is when I realized it is more efficient to exchange information this way and it looks really cool! To make this all happen I use a few good online tools that I will share with you shortly.
First let me share some reasons why I had to kill my business card:
- Very easy to lose
- It adds clutter to your desk and workspace
- You can not distribute your contact information easily from person to person
- You have to re-order when you run out of them
- It’s not the direction we are headed as we move closer to a paperless society
- Not Green! Bad for the environment and for the trees that help protect our atmosphere.
It wasn’t easy coming to this decision because I was so used to exchanging contact information the traditional way using business cards at networking events. Once I realized I could manage to get through multiple events without passing out one business card then it just made sense to keep going virtual with my information exchange.
Here are more reason why I made the switch:
- Virtual business cards are easy to create and exchange to your networking contacts
- You never run out of them
- You can add links that take your contacts to your social profiles, blogs, or any of your web properties
- Information is magically ported to your contacts cell phone via sms where it is easily retrievable by them
- Links on some smart phones are active and can go right to your social profile or website home page.
- And it’s green! Yay!!
So If you want to create your own virtual business card here are the free online services I recommend.
1. Contxts –> This site allows you to exchange all of your professional information with a single text message. You can have people text your user name that you create on the site to a sms number (50500 is the number used by Contxts). Your contacts will receive up to 140 characters of information you want them to receive on how to get in touch with you. To see an example of this just text “trafficisking” without the quotes to 50500 and you will get all my contact information on your cell phone in seconds!
2. Card.ly –> This is a virtual online card that sits on a website. You make a “tiny” portfolio online in which you’ll be able to integrate your networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.). Then you would also include a little information about you and how to contact you. This works great if you are active on social networks or email and want to give people you meet online some quick information about you. Also great to place on your websites, blogs, forum signatures, etc. If you want to see an example of what it looks like you can visit my Card.ly here.
I think as we move closer to a paperless society virtual business cards will become the future. I realize that some industries will be slow to adopting this kind of technology and may still continue to exchange contact information the traditional way. Just understand that this is how information will be exchanged now and in the future. It’s just a matter of time before everyone else follows.
I’m curious to know what works best for you when exchanging contact information at networking events. Would you prefer to exchange contact information virtually or keep the traditional way of handing out business cards?