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Do You Need A Personal Business Card?

Do You Need A Personal Business Card?

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    I have a business card collection. It started out unintentionally: I have one box that I throw any business cards into, after I add the relevant contact information to my address book. Every so often, though, I like to go through my little box and take a look at what the current trends for business cards are. Of course, there are some major differences between industries, but I have noticed some interesting things.

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    A surprising number of the names on the cards in my box are repeated. I’m not talking about duplicates: I’ve been introduced to quite a few people who have handed me a card for their day job, and then added a personal card to the stack. It seems that carrying multiple business cards is becoming common.

    How Many Business Cards Do You Need?

    If your employer goes to the effort of printing you business cards, the expectation seems to be that you’ll hand out those cards at each and every event you attend. But your job may not be the only thing you have going these days. The number of people pursuing something on the side is constantly growing. Heck, even full-time freelancers seem to wind up with multiple approaches and multiple cards — a blogger who also does SEO optimization may have a card for each aspect of his business.

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    But what does that mean for the rest of us? Just because the cool kids have multiple business cards doesn’t mean that all of us have to try to remember which card to hand out at which events, right? I think the answer really comes down to ‘it depends.’ And it depends mores on you than on your employer. Whether or not you have an employer who prints your cards for you, it’s still important to have at least one card. But that doesn’t mean you need to hand everyone you meet both your personal and your employer’s cards.

    Business Cards Versus Personal Cards

    The real decision maker on the type of card you need comes down to what your own plans for your career include. Is it a priority for you to (eventually) make money on your side projects or move into a career more closely related to those projects? Do you see yourself moving on from your current employer — by their choice or yours — any time soon? If you’re answering yes, it does make sense for you to have some kind of personal card listing contact information beyond your employer’s. Think of it this way: if you’re working for a company that doesn’t seem steady, you want to be building connections that will help you move on down the road. You definitely don’t want your best contacts trying to reach you at a work email address long after you’ve left a particular company.

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    That doesn’t mean that a business card with your name and your employer’s logo isn’t useful. If you’re acting in a capacity as a representative of your company, it’s probably best to limit yourself to handing out your official business cards. After all, no one wants word to get back to the boss that they’ve been looking for prospects on company time. Furthermore, odds are pretty good that you do different things in your off-time than you might for an employer. Your employer may be the contact information that a potential client is actually interested in. Networking isn’t so much a game of how many names can you get in your address book as how many people can you help get things done (and who might be able to help you out as well).

    A Basic Card

    Maybe you’re thinking that it’s time to create a personal card of your own. You may not have any side projects, but you even if you just want an easy way of sharing your personal contact information, a card can make the fit. Furthermore, you can do it very inexpensively. Online printers, like OvernightPrints or VistaPrints will run cards at prices as low as $10 for 100 cards. Put together a basic card with your name, phone number and email address and you’re ready to rock and roll. A simple card without a fancy design can actually be just as eye-catching as other options.

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    Sure, there are all sorts of social media cures for the card that are prefect for sharing your personal contact information at the touch of a button — Contxts comes to mind as an example — but the average member of the business is unlikely to join up with those services just to get one person’s contact information. If you’re thinking about relying on one of these tools to share your personal contact information, plan on needing to scribble it down on a napkin on a regular basis.

    That brings me to a last point. While it can be acceptable to write down a home phone number on a business card when you’re trying to make sure that a prospective client can get ahold of you if need be, it strikes me as unprofessional to flip over a card and proceed to write down a list of home contact information down to your Twitter ID and LinkedIn address. If you find yourself doing so on a regular basis, it’s a good warning sign that it’s time to get a personal business card.

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    Last Updated on May 21, 2019

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

    If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

    Example 1

    You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

    You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

    In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

    Example 2

    You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

    People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

    You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

    Example 3

    You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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    The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

    Example 4

    You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

    Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

    If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

    Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

    • Understand your own communication style
    • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
    • Communicate with precision and care
    • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

    1. Understand Your Communication Style

    To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

    In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

    Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

    2. Learn Others Communication Styles

    Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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    If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

    “How do you prefer to receive information?”

    This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

    To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

    3. Exercise Precision and Care

    A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

    On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

    Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

    I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

    I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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    In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

    The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

    Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

    4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

    Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

    In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

    “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

    Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

    Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

    It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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    It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

    It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

    Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

    Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

    The Bottom Line

    When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

    I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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    Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

    Reference

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