What to put on your business card… is that really still a thing? In a time of smartphones and social media, it may seem like the rather simple business card has no place anymore. But considering the extremely low cost and ease with which they can be used, the classic business card is still a valuable tool for almost any business professional.
In some ways, those other digital options have actually made business cards more useful. An actual physical item you hand to someone now carries more weight than it did in the past. Also, depending on the demographics of your customers or clients, many may not have social media accounts or want to bother with them.
For those clients who are often in more senior positions or have more money to spend, it’s a perfect opportunity to hand them a business card.
Whether you’re in sales or simply networking for professional reasons, you want to make connections with people. That’s the name of the game. So having all the tools possible for any situation and any interaction is what’s going to lead to the most success.
For that reason, business cards are still a strong sales and networking tool and likely will be for decades to come.
In this article, we’ll go over what you should include on your business card depending on your situation. We’ll also go over some business card ideas and suggestions for those looking to have some printed up.
Identifying Your Goals
One of the first steps to designing and using a business card is to first determine what your goals are and what your current situation dictates. This will influence what goes on the card and may even influence the type of card or design you choose to use.
Below are key areas to consider when creating business cards for different situations ranging from business owners to those looking for a new job.
What To Put On Your Business Card If You Are The Owner
As the owner of a business, the goal is to promote an image of authority and control.
In the business world, the title of CEO or Chief Executive Officer is the title that most readily conveys this type of message.
When the owner gives their card to someone, they want that person to know they are talking to the CEO or top decision-maker. As a business owner, you’ll likely use your card when networking with other business owners or top executives.
The goal here is to let them know that when they make contact with you, they are making contact with the person in charge and someone who can make a deal happen.
For this reason, the business owner title people generally choose is CEO. Even if it’s an LLC or you have a business partner, if you are the owner or founder, you can also designate yourself as the CEO. Any managing member can designate themselves as the CEO as long as the other managing partners agree.
In most situations, the term CEO or chief executive officers will carry more weight and suggest a higher level of control and executive status.
There are some cases though where you may not want this exact type of designation and may prefer a simpler title like owner.
Say for example you own a boutique sculpture or art shop. In that case, the designation of CEO may seem too business-like. As someone who is more creative and offers more personalized products or services, simply calling themselves the owner may be more appropriate.
For those individuals, they may want to include the title of Owner as opposed to that of a CEO as it fits more with artistic or creative pursuits. Also, people don’t expect artists to refer to themselves with executive titles.
But of course, every situation is different and you want to match your title on your business card with the image you are trying to promote.
Another option may be the title of Founder. Being the founder can promote a much different image than both the title of CEO or owner. This is especially true depending on the age of the business or the uniqueness of the business.
For example, if you’ve created a totally new and innovative type of digital sales agency, calling yourself the founder helps to tell people that the business was your idea from the ground up. In this case, you may want to use the title Founder and CEO.
This lets people know the business was your innovative idea and you are also the chief executive. This is a good way to sort of bridge the gap between showing your creativity as well as your executive authority.
This can also work for older businesses where you may not be the CEO anymore or have taken a less prominent role, but you originally built the business. An older business that is still successful has a certain gravitas as other business owners know how hard it is to weather all the ups and downs of different economic times.
Calling yourself the founder of a longstanding company shows your long-term business success and experience. Even if you no longer are involved in day-to-day operations, being the founder conveys the message that you built something that still stands strong to this day, which can be a powerful image in this era of fast boom and bust cycles.
Beyond your title, you then want to add the address for your headquarters. If your business is all run from one location, like a restaurant, then use that address. If you instead own several businesses all managed from one single location, that single location should be the address.
Whatever you choose, your address generally isn’t a critical part of a business card, especially for a CEO or business owner. In fact, this can sometimes be left out if your business is well-known or you don’t operate from a centralized location.
As for your phone number, this depends and you may want to have two business cards for different situations. As the CEO or owner, you want a business card to just have your company’s main telephone line as the contact.
In addition, you may want a second business card with your direct contact information. Of course, this will be used for more personal interactions and deal-making where you want the person to have direct access to you.
Once again, this can come down to personal preference and the type of business you run. For smaller, niche businesses, you may want to always use your direct access number. For larger organizations, it’s usually best to have an office number or the main corporate number listed.
This is optional but most owners will include both a phone number and email. This can also be split into two different cards similar to the phone numbers. One with your personal business email and one with the corporate main email.
Next, it’s common to include your company’s website URL somewhere on the card and after the other more personal information. This can be done simply and there is no need to write the full URL or add the “WWW”. Simply adding the domain name, such as XYZCompany.com will work fine.
If your business has a strong and active social media presence, you can add those as well. This is a personal choice and you have to determine if this fits with your image as the owner and the type of organization you run.
It also depends on your social media profiles. If they are somewhat inactive or not a main part of your communication strategy, then it may be best to leave those off. You don’t want people visiting those from your card and seeing that the posts to Twitter or other platforms are old and not recently updated.
What To Put On Your Business Card For Networking
Those interested in networking may be doing so for professional reasons to advance their career while others may do this to find sales leads or contacts.
This means you are trying to portray a different image than what we described in the previous section about owners and CEOs. As someone who is networking, you are trying to convey an image that you have something to offer the people you meet.
You aren’t necessarily trying to promote an image of authority, but instead an image of someone who can solve specific problems or offer a specific talent.
When people are networking or at a networking event, they are looking for others who can either solve their problems or complement their own skills with additional skills. This means your card should try to convey this type of image for yourself. That being a person who can solve problems or offer complementary skills and talents.
For your title, this means it should try to reflect what your core skills are and what you can do for the people you meet.
In many cases, you may want to be as specific as possible about what you offer. For example, if you’re a software developer that specializes in B2B invoicing solutions, you want to use a title that portrays that.
You don’t simply want your title to say “software developer” as that’s too generic and the people you meet likely have more specific needs that need to be addressed. The same can go for general titles like director of operations.
Using the example above, a more apt title would be “Software Developer for B2B Applications” or something similar. This gives the recipient of your business card much more information about what problems you solved and what skills you offer.
It also makes you more memorable if you have a brief conversation before handing them your card. If you mention your B2B experience and then give them the card, when they look at it later, they will remember your conversation after seeing the title on your card.
If it just says software developer, it may not ring that bell and remind them of exactly what you do.
Depending on your profession and skill set, you may have highly sought-after certifications that are appealing to potential networking contacts. If you have these, it’s important to list them on your card, generally directly beside or under your name and title.
Of course, you don’t want to get carried away here if you have dozens of certifications. Choose the most desirable and most prominent ones. The lesser certifications will likely be assumed if you display a few high-level certifications.
These can be management-specific certifications like those for project management. They can also be software specific like being certified by Salesforce or other popular tools.
Only include these if they are directly related to what you are trying to network for. If you no longer are involved in an area where you have certification, don’t include it just to pad your business card. It will simply confuse your contacts and will lessen the impact of your other information.
If you are active on social media and discuss topics directly related to your networking and career, you can include those.
However, it’s important that your accounts are almost entirely professionally related. This means if you have a Twitter account and you are a software developer, you only speak about software development and topics related to that.
This can be a great way to strengthen networking ties and people who receive your business cards may end up following you on social media if you stick to specific topics that apply to their business. This means when that person needs services or talents, they will likely contact you first as they have a type of ongoing relationship with you due to social media posting.
If you don’t have a social media account that discusses professional topics, consider doing so. Just remember to stay on topic as what you post reflects on you and what you offer.
For networking, you want your direct contact information listed, not the main number of the company you may work for. Networking is all about direct communication, so you want people to be able to contact you directly. Not only that, you want them to see on the card that the phone number is direct and they can get right to you if needed.
The address isn’t too critical on a networking card, so a personal address can work or a business location is also fine.
If you have no business address, you can also simply leave the address off the card. You may still want to include a city if that’s where you specialize. If you specialize in different cities or even countries, you can include those cities or countries.
For example, if you’re based in the United States but make frequent business trips to the U.K. you may want to include the U.K. or the city you visit regularly on your card. This way if you meet a prospect in those cities or countries, they know you are not just there on a one-time visit and instead work there regularly.
QR codes can be common on business cards now and they can work well for networking. This allows a fast way for those who do prefer smartphones or other digital tools to quickly input information into their phone for storage.
Your QR code can link to whatever you like. Many people may link to a LinkedIn profile. While others may have a professional website page that works like a digital business card. This site should have your photo and all relevant information.
Keep this website simple and make sure all information is listed on the front page and above the fold. This means the top half of the page. Your contact shouldn’t have to scroll or menu-dive to find all of your relevant information.
What To Put On Your Business Card When Unemployed
If you’re unemployed and starting a job search, you’re in a very similar situation to the networking example from the previous section. This means you should follow most of those tips since what you’re trying to do is inform people of your skills and how you can help them.
You may have an existing business card from your previous employer but it’s best not to use those anymore if you are a job seeker. Business cards are relatively inexpensive to have printed up and you can often start with a small batch from most printers. This makes them even more affordable regardless of your budget.
As for your title, you can use your old title from your previous job if that is the same position you are looking for now. This is best if your previous job title is something used across the industry. If your old job title was very specific to your last job, then you may want to generalize it more.
The goal here is to tailor your title to the audience you plan on seeking a job with. This is an aspect that makes it a little different from networking.
So when deciding on your title, try to stop and think about what kind of job you are going to be looking for. Do you want the exact same job in the same industry? Or maybe you want to branch out into a different industry that has more prospects. Use this information to dictate your title to make sure it’s targeted to the audience you want to impress.
You should definitely also use a QR code on your business card if you are unemployed. Have the QR code lead to either your LinkedIn or professional website that has your resume easily accessible.
The QR code can be on the front or back of the card depending on the design and what else you have on the card. Overall though, it shouldn’t be the main focal point of the design as this can seem a little impersonal. Your photo, logo, and contact information should always take center stage on a business card.
Social Media Profiles
Once again, if your social media profiles are professional and stick to industry topics and discussions, then you can include these. It can help to show you are active in the industry and are always looking for ways to engage.
Stick with one or maybe two profiles at the most. Don’t list every social media platform you happen to be on. For most professionals, this will be Twitter or LinkedIn. For some creative or marketing-related fields, platforms like Instagram may be more suited for inclusion on your business cards.
But this is also a reason why starting a professional social media account can be a good idea even if you don’t necessarily need it right now. Building up an account and presence online can take time and patience. So it’s not something you want to have to do while looking for a job.
But slowly building up a social media account for your profession now can come in very handy if you ever do need to suddenly look for a new job.
Often people can lose jobs through no fault of their own. An economic downturn or changes in management can cause you to be let go despite your stellar performance. In these cases, having the tools already needed to start your job search and networking goes a long way toward shortening the time you are out of work.
Digital Business Cards
In today’s age we know that digital technology has taken over, and even though we’ve gone over the reasons why having a paper business card can be beneficial, it is important to know that you do have the option of having the same details on both a physical card as well as a digital one.
There are plenty of digital business card companies out there that you can use including:
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