A few years ago, I began collecting business cards everywhere I went — restaurants, boutiques, hair salons, coffee shops — and stored them in a 3×5 index card file. Today, I dumped them all out to take an inventory. Of the 132 cards in my box, I was most attracted to about 10 of them. I noticed a few commonalities among these 10 cards, and each trait can be translated into a tip to make yours just as noticeable.
1. Include a visual element. Choose a concept that connects to what you do. An image can help jog someone’s memory of who you are, and will reinforce your brand if used on your website and resume, too. Images should use color and take up at least one-fourth of the total surface area.
2. Utilize both sides of the card. Many of the most attractive cards in my box used one side for name and visual element, and the other side for contact information. On some, one side was a solid color, and the opposite side was a white background with that same color for text.
3. Show, don’t tell. Add a creative twist that suggests your passion or field of expertise. For example, the “Google Me” business card to the right implies an interest in programming and technology.
4. Try non-traditional color schemes. Most of the cards in my box had a white background, so the light-text-on-darker-background cards really stood out. Also try going vertical with your layout.
5. Don’t include extraneous information. Pick and choose from these basics: name, email address, phone number, Twitter handle, LinkedIn URL, and personal website/blog address.
Want to really push the envelope? The following suggestions will definitely set you apart from the crowd, but make sure your alterations have purpose and adhere to your product or brand.
Play with shape. Some cards in my box were squares, circles, and ovals.
Add bite marks or holes.
Non-cards. Several businesses have online catalogs for personalized chocolate cards. Other materials I’ve seen include leather and dog tags.
Remember to keep a few business cards with you at all times – not just during networking events. You never know when you’ll meet someone at a bar or on a train ride!
What do you think is the most important element on business cards? What does yours look like?