July 31, 2016

Have Business Cards Become Passe?

Freelance Switch recently published a post about creating memorable business cards, and it got me thinking about my own business cards, which I just reordered through Vista Print a few months ago (see above). These are not drastically different from the business cards I had before (which, admittedly, I still had a few hundred left), but I wanted to make a few little tweaks and decided that I could justify that small extra expense for branding purposes.

While at the writer’s conference back in October, I exchanged business cards with at least a dozen other writers and noticed that little variations (for instance, a vertical card instead of the usual horizontal) made a big impression. I thought I’d experiment with using color and copy on the back of the card to be a little different. (For some wackier ideas for business cards, read this post from QuickSprout.)

But here’s the thing.

We already had a booklet listing all of the attendees and their contact information, so while exchanging cards was a nice symbolic gesture, it wasn’t really necessary. I don’t have a good system for organizing physical cards, and I suspect that most people are in the same boat. My Rolodex is already overflowing, so I tend to search my email account before I’ll flip through a stack of cards.

Nowadays a lot of people just whip out their BlackBerries or iPhones and add you to their contact list (or Facebook friends or Twitter account) on the spot without exchaging any paper products. And while face-to-face networking is certainly valuable, you can cast a wider net by networking online. The online equivalent is your Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn profile, and those are a lot easier and cheaper to update.

All of this begs the question – will we still be using paper business cards five years from now? How about 10 years? And can anyone help me find a better system for organizing business cards until then?


  1. I think it is easier to put your contact information on your Blackberry and/or use Facebook. I posted this article on my facebook page. I will share any results I get.

  2. I guess, whatever electronic contact is , whether its iphone or twitter , nothing can beat like business cards…..its just the same as you are having Emails but it can never replace paper mails, which gives trillion times happiness then a usual mail…..its a human personal touch…..which can never loose its significance….

  3. Random Generator says:

    what if you optimized your business card for electronic data input? i don’t know how that would actually change your business card but its something to ponder.

    or you know how they say to write down something about the person you meet on the back of the business card so you remember them better? what if you pre-printed a form in the back of your card just for that purpose? or you included something memorable about yourself in the back. again just thinking out loud.

  4. Great topic! I just went to a blogger event recently and wrote up a post about how I missed out on the swarm of cards that was being passed around. I did have mine in the mix though.

    There is nothing like the feel of a card on good stock with a nice design. It makes a lasting impression and gives you an idea of the true personality of someone. The one card that I got was fabulous and I used it in my blog post and was able to link to her.

    I still have hundreds of my Vista Print cards left too, but plan on having a new card made. I’m going to use a new company. Still deciding, but maybe the Moo cards. VP gives way too many cards. I think I’d prefer maybe one or two hundred of something more personalized.

  5. Paper printing will not go away in a long time.

    People don’t adapt to new technology as fast as we think, so there will be a huge population that still prefers the old standard method of keeping contacts.

    Maybe in a long, long, time.

  6. Susan Johnston says:

    @Random Generator: I hadn’t thought of that, but that’s a good idea. Any suggestions on how to optimize a business card for scanning?

    I was thinking it would be cute (because I often network with bloggers and entrepreneurs, not corporate types) to have that note preprinted, something like “smart, friendly redhead – would be a great person to hire for freelance work!”

    @Anali: Those Moo cards are super cute, too.

  7. Fibro Witch says:

    Well it might be because I am a scrap book maker and a craftier, but I have an alphabetized binder for any business or calling cards I collect.

    First I take the card, and attach it to the page. Then I write a short note about the event I was at, and how I meet the person. I note any other connections I might have with the person. If they have a web page, or a linked in page I note that and try to friend/link/twitter/ what ever with

    Finally if I can, I take a picture of the person, or if they have a picture on their web site I copy it.

    If I am going to be seeing the person again, I can check the book and have a reminder of how we meet.

  8. Devon Ellington says:

    My rolodex is my go-to for everything, because electronic devices fail.

    When I get a new business card, I create a rolodex card for the information right away (and I have the date I received it in the top right hand corner — helps me keep track).

    I take the physical business card and put it in a business-card sized album –a 3ring binder with the plastic sheet protectors that are business-sized.

    I tried doing it by topic, but it’s straight alphabetical by person’s last name.

    It took me a lot of trial and error, but this is how I do it.

    I also have an “electronic rolodex” into which I put the information, but I can’t tell you how often I’ve had to re-enter information (and yes, I back it up, but hey, technology fails).

  9. Print Matt says:

    There are a few interesting mobile applications that let you exchange contact information.
    For most of these the issue is both parties must have it installed, which is extremely rare.
    For SMS based applications the user still has to save the number manually.
    Business cards add a sense of personality and the exchange of information becomes more than a business transaction.
    Applications or social networks have not turned business cards into something obsolete, they are just complementary.

  10. My last set of cards were really cool – the logo was horizontal, but the contact info was vertical along the right edge. I got so many compliments on that card!

    But to your point – I think you’re right. In some cases the cards are pointless, but I find it more helpful to have the card and jot a note on the back about who this person was. And I have a little “card holder” notebook that’s designed just for business cards – little plastic sleeves that hold them all. It’s the size of an address book. Really neat!

  11. Style and Inspiration says:

    I think business cards are pretty much out unless you meet a lot of people in person. I hardly ever use them for freelance writing. It’s too bad because my cards are really cute!

  12. Colleen Gonzalez says:

    I had the great idea of making mine a bookmarker. I figure it has a useful purpose that way. Soon, though, Kindle will make sure we don’t have print books anymore…then I’ll have to think of something else!

  13. Susan Johnston says:

    All excellent ideas! Thanks everyone for weighing in.

  14. Andy Drish says:

    My business card simply has a link to my blog, my email, and my phone number. That’s it.

    Pretty basic… but it seems to be effective so far.

  15. Great discussion. My card is vertical and my image is actually a very cute caricature. I get comments on it all the time, and it accentuates the creative nature of my business. I hope paper cards never go out!

  16. I guess they are passé in most instances, but it depends on whom you’re dealing with. Maybe you’re not dealing with a techno-fiend, he or she could be old-fashioned (who knows?), or someone might find them nice to have for when their computer is off. Not everyone lives off a blackberry. At least not yet 🙂

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  18. I simply staple business cards on the cards in my Rolodex then write notes on the back of the Rolodex cards.