Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Being Social #24 - Death to business cards!

Welcome to eNetworking 101 and Being Social!

100_0334At one point, I had three RolodexTM business card rotaries or trays. Three! I kept business cards because they told me how to contact people, but do I really use them for that purpose? No...and so I have been tossing out business cards. Why?
  1. If the person is someone with whom I want to be in frequent contact, I enter their contact information into my digital contact management system or friend them on Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn.
  2. Connecting to the person online ensures that I have more information about the person that what is contained on the business card, and it is likely going to be more up-to-date.
  3. If I'm trying to locate a person or organization, I no longer go to my business card file first. In fact, my business card file isn't generally where I am! Instead, I head online to look the person up. If I need to familiarize myself with what the person is doing, then looking the person up online is going to provide access to more information that what is on the card.
  4. Most business cards that I've kept were kept "just in case". That is no longer a good reason.
I can hear you scream, "scan all of the cards into your contact management systems!" Having now sorted through hundreds of business cards, I can tell you that would have been a waste of time. Doing that doesn't mean that I would use the card or connect with more people. It only means that I would have created more data.

So what is my current thinking about accepting business cards? Some of it hasn't changed.
  • I accept cards from people I want to follow-up with for whatever reason...and I do the follow-up. For example, perhaps I need to email the person a piece of information.
  • I will connect with those that I want to be in close contact with through one of the social sites, e.g., LinkedIn.
  • If the business card has no residual value, then I'll toss it. <-- this is a new step!
My business card contains several ways for a person to connect with me including pointers to my Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts as well as the URLs to my blogs. I've included this information so people can connect to me where and how they want to.

Jill Hurst-WahlWhile my business card does not yet contain a QR Code, I have a QR code, I have created two QR codes that contain my contact information. The one of the left is posted on my office door so visitors can quickly add my contact information to their cell phones. (The information at the above and below the actual code helps to signal what the code is for.)

I've experimented with placing a QR code on a name badge to use at conferences. In the correct audience, that could be quite useful, and so my experimenting with that will continue!

Finally, I do know of a couple of people that have QR codes on their business cards! That allows people to input their contact information more quickly into their smart phones. You could even enter the information into your phone, then give back the business card.

Do I really think business cards are dying? No, but I do think they are becoming less important. I do think that if you have a business card that you should rethink what it contains. Remember that its function is to tell people how to contact you. In our web 2.0 world, does your business card really do that?

Tips: Facebook continues to change its services, which is receiving mixed reviews. It is also changing how it broadcasts information that you post. For more on this, read this blog post by LibrarianByDay.

For Your Information & Entertainment: How do you find a good restaurant when you are in an unfamiliar location? While at a conference recently, I found an excellent restaurant by following a tip left in FourSquare about Hattie'sTM in Saratoga Spring, NY. If you are using Yelp, FourSquare or other social media services that allow you to view tips, do it! You'll be accessing information left by people who have passion about specific locations and are willing to share that passion. In addition, don't forget to leave tips for other people. Tell people about places to visit. Give them little-known facts. Provide information that will help their experience be the best possible!

Comments? If you have a comment about this issue of Being Social, please email me or leave a comment in the blog. Thanks!

FTC Disclaimer: eNetworking 101 is an Amazon affiliate and receives a small commission if you purchase a product or service from an eNetworking 101 Amazon link. (Trust me, I'm not getting rich off of Amazon.)

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