Business Card – Paper or Not?

Meeting in person for business events, thankfully, is again no longer a thing we marvel over, as most of us put those pandemic days behind us.

But several of the bigger, longer events we at Buoyancy are involved with this year are all occurring in the summer. And those events–some past and some yet to come – remind me of a topic we’ve covered here before.

Business cards.

Some folks with whom I’m working now have been ordering their new author business cards, making the surprisingly detailed decisions required.

Others of us reordered or did an inventory check to make sure we still had a good supply before these summer events.

And now there’s a new wrinkle, well, anyway it was new to me.

And that’s the folks who have a digital card you access through a QR code.

I suspect they aren’t all that new; truly, I don’t get out that much.

But for me at NRB in late May, on more than one occasion I was surprised by this. From my perspective, there I was having a good chat with someone with whom I hoped to follow up later for some exciting reason or another. However, when I said with what I hoped was winsome charm, “Oh may I have your card please?” what I got offered was some device with a QR code on it.

I caught on quickly enough, and some of them opened into a contact card I could save in my phone. That was great.

However, on at least one occasion, the code simply sent me to the media outlet’s website, so I had no contact info for the nice man I was speaking with who actually wanted me to contact him regarding an author interview. He ended up jotting his cell phone number down on a sticky.

But my beef with the new admittedly green system is what not having the physical card meant for me – and to put this another way, it is also what I want to remind you about the reason why I believe authors all need business cards.

First of all, the business card is a memory aid for the interactions you have with other people.

That function is also an argument for putting your photo on your business card.

Although I don’t recommend my personal practice of ending up with piles of cards in various bins and small containers on my desk, as an interim step to saving that contact info they work great. And as long as you still notice the card on your desk, it reminds you to take that action.

And there’s another argument for the physical card, and this one comes also with some other opinions I hold by way of tips. My membership in the eWomen Network taught me most of this – but when you want to remember to do something with, for or because of info received from a person – write on the card, somewhere, and make the note immediately, while you are still talking to the person. It’s a compliment to them that you are that interested in what they are telling you. Many times these days people make use of both sides of their business card, but when you are designing your card, do leave a little space for you or someone else to jot something down on the card.

And then, think about the coatings and colors on your cards too. I have been handed very clever plum-colored cards with tiny type reversed out in light grey by a newish businessperson who was quite pleased with her non-typical, non-boring business card. It was beautiful. But for me what it was mostly memorable for was how useless it was to write on.

Coatings and varnishes on cards can also be an issue if a standard ballpoint pen can’t write on them. Although the shine makes the card pop, it’s got its downsides also. But here’s one simple solution.

Earlier this year, I was working with an author on her marketing collateral. The graphic designer, who has a strong background in print, recommended no varnish on the second side so that the author or someone else could write on it. She caught on immediately and took his suggestion.

Like most changes, we figure out how to adapt and if everyone goes to QR code business contact cards, I guess I’ll cope. But for my old-school brain, I’m wondering if the QR code fans might consider having both options available.

At least for a couple more years.

Originally sent as an email to the Buoyancy community on July 7, 2023.
Joni Sullivan Baker
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