My card ... The business card. It seems so stereotypical and, at the same time, archaic. But it’s surprising how many people still exchange them.

The exchange of business card isn’t merely an age-old ritual of introduction (and for most of us, the act isn’t as involved as it is in Japan). It’s also a venerable marketing technique.

While you might not get a lot of business from handing out business cards, it can pay off. Not just in getting new clients, but also when making new contacts.

Here are a few tips that you can use when you find it’s time you need a business card.

Do it yourself, or get it designed?

If can afford it, then you should definitely get a designer to create your cards. You’re usually assured of a good quality work. A number of print shops also do business card design, and some of those designs are better than pretty good. And you might be able to get a package deal on the design and print services.

Maybe you can’t afford a designer. Or perhaps you’ve been burned by one in the past and are a bit wary. Those can be reasons to go the DIY route. But be careful. By doing it yourself, you can go to two extremes: your cards might be too plain or too garish. It can be hard find that middle ground, especially if you have limited (or non-existent) design skills.

One way to approach creating a business card is to look at some of the more creative or effective cards that you’ve been give or have seen. Then, try to use some of the best elements of those cards. If have a colour scheme, a logo, and a particular font that you use with your website or blog, try to use those those with cards. It will give your business a consistent look.

If you’re tempted to print your cards yourself on the perforated stock that you can buy at a business supply store, don’t. The results look pretty amateurish

I went DIY with my business card, and chose a a simple design. The card is printed on both sides. On one side is a photo of a writer’s desk. On the back is my contact information.

Front and back view

What to include on your card

That will depend on your needs and what you feel is essential. At the very least, you’ll need to include your name and a way to contact you — a phone number or an email address. As you can see above, on my card I have:

  • My name
  • My email address
  • The URL of my website
  • My Skype ID and phone number (also through Skype)
  • My Twitter handle
  • A QR code

Include as much or as little information is you see fit. You definitely don’t want to clutter up your business card.

One of the most memorable business cards I was ever given had a dark background, and the person’s name and email address in very strong font on the card. It was as simple as it was striking.

Printing and such

If you’re creating business cards yourself, or have had a designer do the job for you, then seek out a reputable local printer. Or, you can upload your design to a service like VistaPrint or Moo. No matter which option you choose, consider using a nicer card stock and a design that’s a little different from the usual rectangular card. My own card, for example, has rounded edges.

If you decide to use VistaPrint or Moo, you can also design your cards using their web-based card creators. I’ve used both (my current cards are from Moo), and they’re good. Moo’s card creator is better, in my opinion. It has a number of options that the one from VistaPrint lacks and, overall, you get a better looking card.

Going digital

There are a number of mobile apps that let you save trees while sharing your information. If you’re looking for such an app or service, I suggest doing a search for digital business cards — to be honest, I haven’t tried any of them. That said, I have heard some good things about Icon.

If you want to go with something completely web based, I suggest taking a look at About.me. Think of it as a personal homepage that can act as your online business card. It’s easy to customize, and offers statistics about the number of people who took a look at your page. In case you’re curious, here’s my About.me page.

Photo credit: vivekchugh