Is the business card really dead?
Eighteen months ago I rebranded my business. Which meant I needed some new business cards. I’m a sales guy. I love networking. I can pretty much track my entire adult career through the packs of unused business cards that I have in a drawer in a desk at home.
So, my business had a new name, logo and brand colours. I had to have new business cards to match.
So I got 500 ordered.
And they looked good!
Five years ago I’d have probably gone through those 500 cards in a little less than a year.
Ten years ago I’d have ordered 1500 cards and got through them in a year.
Even a couple of years ago I’d probably have needed to start thinking about ordering some more cards by now.
A year and a half on, and I’ve got 485 cards left.
Now, it won’t have escaped your attention that the last couple of years haven’t exactly been ‘normal’ years. I’m usually at a networking event or conference a couple of times a month, but it’s been a long time since I’ve done that much face-to-face interaction.
Naysayers have been predicting the fall of the business card for years. For a while it was LinkedIn which was going to forever banish the physical business card to the dusty filofax of history.
Then of course there was one of the most cruelly-underused features of a mobile phone — the ability to send a contact card via MMS. That would surely wrap things up for mobile apps. Right…?
Finally it was smartphones themselves. These epic tools that sit in our pocket that are perfect for exchanging info. Add in bluetooth, wifi, NFC and surely someone would build a service that could easily enable two phones to pass important contact details between themselves. And sure, companies have tried. Apps have been created. And downloaded. And there must have been a few of these digital handshakes completed.
And yet, even as an app developer myself, I’ve never found a solution that really worked. LinkedIn was never ubiquitous enough, and it was always clunky trying to track down that Jim Smith you were talking to at the bar on a Thursday night of a three-day conference.
MMS… no-one could work out MMS. Or how to actually open one of those VCF files. So you’d end up crowded round your new business contact showing them how to open it and what to do with it next.
And then the app solution. It would have worked if different apps talked to each other. Or if there was one app to rule them all, which everyone had and used, that could manage the business card pass-off. But nothing ever really emerged. Security concerns and privacy concerns remain. Frankly the likelihood of 20 people in one room all having downloaded the right app was more or less zero. It’s a bit like parking apps. You’ll have a dozen downloaded, apart from the one you need right now.
Back to networking…
And then, finally, a chance to get out and about and meet some fellow business leaders at a local event to celebrate the launch of the Hampshire Hogs event.
At one point I hopped up onto a table to give a speech.
And then it happened.
Someone came across and asked me for a business card. And for the first time in a decade I didn’t have one to hand.
Is the business card dead? Nope. Not even close.
Did I have one in my car? Yep.
Thom Gibbons is CEO of Apptaura.