As a college sophomore I remember receiving my first set of business cards. Granted, it was for being a non-paid editor of my college newspaper, but I was still eager to pass out my cards and spread my name across campus.
However, these days it appears people are less excited about business cards, and more interested in taking advantage of technology to connect. Printed business cards are on the decline [http://articles.latimes.com/2012/mar/16/business/la-fi-business-cards-20120316] – down 13 percent in 2011 from 2006, according to IBISWorld Inc. – while there’s been a dramatic increase in the use of social media sites and high-tech devices to convey the same information. Consider these alternatives for physical business cards:
- LinkedIn [www.linkedin.com], the social networking site that allows professionals to share job experience, educational background, skills and more. As of early February 2012, more than 150 million people in 200 countries were on LinkedIn. College students and recent graduates account for the fastest-growing group of users on LinkedIn.
- Bump [http://bu.mp/], an App that allows Apple and Android users to literally bump iPhones, iPods, iPads and/or Androids together and exchange information. Not only can contact information such as name, email and phone number be shared, but you can also share your photos and other people’s contacts, as well as chat with those who you’ve bumped. More than 50 million people have downloaded the Bump App, with 10 million actively using it.
- Poken [www.poken.com], which offers a variety of items to help people organize collected digital information, and provides an easy way to offer contact information to others. Poken bills one of its items, the Poken USB device (either the PokenSPARK or PokenPULSE), as “a digital replacement for your physical business card.” With near field communication (NFC) built in, the USB device will share and pick up other Poken users’ information when the two are in close contact with one another. Users can then plug the USB device into a computer, go online to keep track of all information collected and determine what personal information to share. Basic contact info is one option, while users can also make available their social networking profiles from more than 50 sites, including Facebook and Twitter. A Poken App is also available for certain smartphones.
Although business cards may slowly be phased out, the need to exchange information and promote yourself and your business will never go away. Marketing agency Kuno Creative [www.kunocreative.com/blog/bid/73359/Blog-Post-Optimization-with-SMO-Tuesday-s-Tips-Tactics-Video] suggests putting links to social media accounts in your email signature to drive traffic and attention to these sites. And if you do need to use business cards, include not only your email address, but your website, blog and social media URLs, too. You may not get excited to pass out business cards these days – but you can still be excited to connect with others, just in a different way.