It seems to me to be a pretty fundamental business and marketing rule to carry and exchange business cards. But, surprisingly over many years I’ve noticed people sometimes do not have a business card (or a stack of them) with them at all times. I don’t know what good the cards do sitting back at the office in the box they came in; none, in my estimation. In my networking with prospective clients, I can’t tell you how many times I have asked an attorney for a card and been told, “I don’t have any with me.” Okay, maybe they are lying and don’t want to give me one. That is, of course, a myopic perspective approach in that I’ve referred potential cases to many lawyers. And, maybe they really ran out. But, missing an opportunity to get, and keep, your name out there is a shame. I will admit that I have had to work on this with my own staff. We have trained them to, first of all, have cards with them, and, second, to give them out. One reason is that it helps people connect a face with a name; a name they may not have understood under the sometimes less than optimal conditions in a networking environment, or even on during the hectic introductions at the beginning of a mock jury research day. And, take care of your cards and try diligently to avoid giving out cards that are bent or tattered from being carried in a wallet. The image you create in everything you do is important. Being sloppy with your business card says “I’m sloppy with everything.” (I admit I have some in my wallet and they are bent as a result; but I only use those as a last resort.) In the U.S. we do not have the formal rituals of exchanging business cards which exist in some cultures, but that does not mean we should be casual about this important marketing and business practice.
I am not as good at remembering to take my business cards with me as David is, but I am better than I used to be! I have a small leather case in my purse that holds a few business cards, as well as a few pieces of index card sized paper. I have business cards in the briefcase I carry to mock jury research; I have business cards in the briefcase I carry to my speeches; I have business cards in the folio I carry to client meetings; and I have business cards in several small/evening purses, just in case I meet a potential client at a social event. I regularly hand them out, replace them, and get more printed. It always amazes me that David and I have to beg, cajole, and coerce our employees to give their business cards to our clients. For what earthly purpose are our employees saving their cards? David and I pay for our employees’ cards, we have them printed, and all they have to do is introduce themselves to our clients and, to prevent any confusion over their name (many of which are quite unusual, I might add), give a card to each and every client upon first meeting them. Although I don’t perceive this as too much to ask our employees, it is a constant battle to get them to comply. There is absolutely zero benefit, in my opinion, for any of my employees to remain anonymous to our clients, forcing the clients to address them as “that guy,” “hey, you,” etc., when, instead, they could be called by name. Business cards are not for saving; they are for handing out to anyone and everyone who is a client, a potential client, or who needs to know our name. (As an aside, since my mother’s passing, I don’t run out of business cards as quickly as I used to. Mom was so very proud of me and my accomplishments; she handed out my cards by the dozens, to anyone who would take them! Thanks, Mom!)