Thursday, July 9, 2009

In Defense of the Business Card

The business card has been taking a beating recently. The digital age is looking to once-and-for-all kill the little piece of cardboard that has been a staple of the business world for more than a century. Companies like DubMeNow and rmbrME are looking to capitalize on this trend by utilizing mobile technology to completely digitize the business card and to remove the need for any physical business-related insignia.

The arguments against business cards fail to realize the actual purpose of these little personal identifiers. Critics offer only weak and disconnected arguments. Sure it's easier to store and share digital data but this only gives us a glorified, digitized phonebook. Business cards are relatively small and could easily be printed only from recycled materials, removing the resource argument.

The purpose of business cards is to build or augment a brand, to signify a basic level of mutual understanding, and to offer a memory and reminder of a positive communication. Business cards give professionals a small bit of creative outlet in a world that often lacks such pleasures - the most memorable cards are slightly different in some way. The exchange of cards is a process that is valuable in itself - usually requiring a meaningful conversation and a basic level of mutual respect.

After I arrive home following a conference, networking event, or some other meeting, I usually empty my pockets and wallet. What I often find is a few business cards that remind me of the conversations and the people that I encountered throughout the day. I remember the insights and quirks of the characters I communicated with. It is this nearly unavoidable reminder and additional thought that gives business cards their real value which cannot be replicated by a few kilobytes of digital text.
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