With the convenience of social media networking, it’s all too easy for collegiettes to ignore the importance of business cards. Whether you’re a senior in high school or a college senior about to graduate, having your own card should be an integral part of your marketing strategy. HC consulted networking extraordinaire and design company MediaA President Tom Klinkowstein for business card etiquette and design procedure. Klinkowstein’s clients have ranged from Hearst Magazines to AT&T, so make sure you take note! Read on and you’ll be making contacts faster than you can say, “What’s your Twitter handle?”
HER BUSINESS CARD DOs
- DO: GIVE OUT AS MANY AS YOU CAN
Handing out business cards to folks you engage in conversation with throughout the week is a great technique for broadening your professional network. “Meeting people is one of the best parts of being alive—it’s a social cohesion,” explains Klinkowstein. The worldly professor and designer urges all of his students to make the most of business cards no matter the stage in their career. “You should hand out cards every waking hour or at least try to give 10 or so a week,” he says.
- DO: KEEP FIVE CARDS IN YOUR WALLET
Place five cards in your clutch at all times and don’t be afraid to hand them out—you never know who you’ll meet at the local Starbucks or on the uptown A train to your internship. “People look unexpectedly from who they are. You can’t tell if they’re making $50K a year or $1 million a year—they all wear jeans!” Klinkowstein says.
For cards you receive, save them in one folder and keep a running Excel sheet with the contact information listed. A great trick is to write down notes on the back of the cards with details like the date, location and any relevant topics discussed. Update the document the night you obtained the card so you can jot down any of these specifics or interesting quirks about the person (to use for future correspondence like a thank you note).
- DO: PRACTICE PROPER ETIQUETTE
Business cards offer an opportunity to not only get contact information but also initiate a subsequent conversation or communication later down the road. The best time to follow up is—if not immediately—two days after your first meet and greet. Otherwise they may forget about your encounter.
When asking for/giving out a business card, wait until all parties involved have had a chance to introduce themselves. When you anticipate parting ways, consider something like the dialogue below:
COMPANY CEO: Hi there, I’m Tom from New York City. I’m a green enthusiast whose business is working with the local government to encourage cosmetic retail stores to produce less waste.
YOU: That’s great! I’m actually the manager of a small-town beauty salon who is looking to practice greener activities at work. It would be really great to work together on a future project; may I have your card to keep in touch?
COMPANY CEO: Sure, that would be great!
Personal but to the point; use this framework for your networking interactions.
HER BUSINESS CARD DON’Ts
- DON’T: FORGET TO PRACTICE A BASIC INTRODUCTION
Klinkowstein acknowledges the discomfort in striking up professional conversations with strangers, but stresses practice. “It’s all rehearsal for the next person you meet, so once you overcome any shyness it becomes fun,” he says. Depending on the culture and the place of your interaction, handing out a business card should almost never be a problem unless you’re being overly aggressive or you’re at a funeral.
- DON’T: BEDAZZLE YOUR BUSINESS CARD
Considering your industry, HCers should typically refrain from overwhelming color, texture and complicated logos. For instance, if you’re a graphic designer, showcase your skills with a unique design or color palette. Folks in fields like business can opt for a more streamlined look—simplicity is appealing to the eye and draws more attention to the content of the card rather than the embellishments. If you’re sending your card to a site like vistaprint.com like Her Campus CTO Annie or print24.com – like Her Campus Managing Editor Cara, be sure to keep this in mind.
Think you have what it takes to make your own? Klinkowstein created this basic business card design guide for his computer graphics course at Hofstra University. He shared the procedure exclusively with Her Campus readers, so be sure to reach out to him via Twitter and let him know how your card comes out:
WHAT YOU NEED:
- 10 sheets of pre-perforated, laser-printable, white business card stock
- Access to Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator
1. As visual research, find five examples from each of these categories: paintings, architecture, fashion, and existing logos from companies located in other countries and which are unknown in the USA.
2. Compile 20 images in one 12x18” Photoshop file (one image per layer), white background. Organize the images into the four categories.
3. Make a second 12x18” file where the images have all been turned into grayscale and where they are organized according to shape similarities.
4. Using Adobe Illustrator, create a logo for yourself based on shapes referenced in the above compilations. You can use the pen tool to crop out specific shapes to base your original logo off of.
5. Let the form you create become its own statement apart from the literal referenced images. Remember, a logo should be stylized and suggestive, not detailed and overly specific. A logo is not a picture or an illustration.
6. Add the first letter from your last name inside the logo. Choose the font carefully so that it is complementary (not competitive) with the logo.
7. Using this logo as the primary visual element, design a business card (black and white only). The card should include any information to make this a useful networking tool, for example:
- Your name and title
- Telephone #
- Email address
- Web url (if applicable)
- Twitter handle
8. Remember that the information on the card needs to be easily readable, meaning you will most likely use a classic rather than an overly decorative font. Suggestion: Helvetica.
9. Using the ruler in Photoshop, create a grid according to the size of your business card. Paste your final text and logo in each box and print on your white business card stock.
CHECK OUT WHAT THESE HCers HAD TO SAY ABOUT THEIR BUSINESS CARDS:
1. Annie Wang, Her Campus Co-founder & CTO
“I designed these Her Campus business cards in Adobe Photoshop and got them printed with foil accents through Vistaprint. When I was designing the cards, I insisted that we get our logo printed in silver foil because it makes the card a distinctive, chic little gem that attracts all manner of ‘I want one!’ and ‘Oh, shiny!’ Our vertical rather than horizontal layout is equally memorable.”
2. Cassidy Brettler
“I got these business cards right before I went to work as a reporter at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. They came in so handy, because I met a ton of professional reporters, from NBC News, CTV News, and other news stations from across the US and the world! Everyone was really impressed with the fact that I had business cards, and the quality of the cards (I got mine from MOO, and everyone I've given one to has commented on the quality of the paper of the cards)! I also send them out with every job and internship that I apply to, and I always get good feedback on them from that too!”
3. Elyssa Goodman
“I actually used one of my own photographs on it as a conversation piece. I write my blog address on the back so people can read my work, as well. It's always good to have around because you never know who you might meet!”
There you have it, HCers! Your go-to guide for everything business card design and etiquette-related. Now we know when someone asks, “Can I have your card?” you’ll have one ready to go.
How important do you think business cards are as a networking tool today? Do you have your own business cards? Weigh in below!
Tom Klinkowstein, President of MediaA
Members of the Her Campus Team