Thursday, April 13, 2017

"Business Cards Are Part Of The Greeting Process"

Nearly everyone in business has a card with their contact information on it to pass out to other people. It should be a given that all people have them, but this isn't the case. Some people just recently changed positions or opened a new business and just haven't ordered their cards yet. Others have exhausted their supply and have yet to reorder or receive their new supply of business cards.

In the modern era of texting and email, some people just rely on the vCard (.vcf) to send an online business card to people and consciously do without the traditional printed card. While this might be convenient - instead of needing to carry around a stack of cards - others are still handing out their cards and aren't able to hold, look at, and make notes on a card that is virtual rather than physical. Plus, there is a potential disconnect here. The person using the vCard must remember to transmit their card - unless it's done right on the spot with their cellphone. The longer the time between the initial meeting and the emailing of the card, the less of impression that is created. The person receiving the card may not remember the encounter.

Have a vCard to send to people as an email attachment to transmit our contact information the way we want people to have and store it in their system, but let's have a physical business card as well. It's just a courtesy - like shaking hands when we meet someone - to be able to exchange business cards when requested or offered. When we don't have one - because we don't use them but rely or vCards instead, we have exhausted our supply, or we simply haven't ordered any yet - it leaves the person we are meeting in the somewhat awkward position of giving us their card but not getting one in return. Sometimes, we are the one giving the card and not getting one in exchange. It works both ways.

The traditional business card is 2½" by 3" in a horizontal format. An alternate format is the same size done vertically. Some cards have rounded corners, Some are folded to create four sides rather than two. Newer formats are square cards, ones that are smaller, and ones that are larger than traditional ones. These stand out but may be harder for people to take with them when they also are meeting people who use the traditional size cards.

Having and using a business card is more than just a formality or a business custom. It conveys to the person we are meeting important information on how to contact us again should they desire to do so. Therefore, it's important that essential information be present on the card.

Most people print their name and company name on their card without issue although some people use their formal birth certificate name even though they don't go by this name and don't expect anyone to address them this way. Therefore, we should print our normal, preferred form of address on our cards. This eliminates the guess work and helps people call us by the name we are used to using.

For instance, if our card says "Robert" but we go by "Bob," "Bud," "RJ," "Skip," or something else, that's what the card should reflect. Let's help the person to whom we are giving our card address us in the future the way that we prefer rather than a name that we almost never use. We have given the person permission to contact us so let's not create an artificial barrier for that contact by having them call us by a name that we don't recognize as being from someone we want to contact us. 

The business card is as much a part of the greeting process as introducing ourselves, shaking hands, and telling the other person a little bit about us. Let's be prepared for this. It's good business etiquette.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.