“Here’s my card,” I answer, as I smoothly reach into my left pocket and pull out a stainless steel cardholder. I flip open the top and swiftly slide out a card. I smile politely, handing off my personal identifier to what could be my future employer. I take note of the facial expressions; the eyebrows slightly arch, pulling the forehead muscles together and the head gives a faint nod of approval. I can tell they’re impressed. Mission accomplished, I think to myself. With a brief shake of the hand and soft smile to bid farewell, I turn and walk the other way playing it off as though I've worked in this field for years.
Business cards are an easy and cheap yet professional and powerful marketing tool. As I pointed out in a previous blog post, and as I’m sure you've been told a thousand times already, it’s not what you know but who you know. Keeping track of individuals you've met and allowing them to have a tangible item in return that explains you is the best method for networking. Business cards are convenient. Plus, handing a stranger a resume on a plane or at a sporting event in hopes of gaining an ‘in’ with the individual is quite comical and inappropriate.
Now you’re probably thinking, why do I need a business card? What would it even say? Just because you don’t have a full time job or internship, doesn't mean you shouldn't have a business card. As a busy student constantly engaging in new activities and meeting new people along the way, college is the perfect time to start creating a professional network. Business cards assist in branding yourself while making successful connections. It can be as short and sweet as name, major, email, phone number, and expected graduation date. Don’t feel embarrassed or uncomfortable if there is no real substance to your card; your basic contact information is all it takes to obtain a connection. Look at it this way: If you didn’t have a business card and someone asks for your contact information, would you be more or less embarrassed scribbling it down on a nearby napkin or scrap piece of paper?
Business cards are the perfect supplement to a great first impression and make you appear more professional. Vistaprint is a great place to order your first business cards; you can even get basic designs free of charge (and no, Vistaprint is not paying me for including them in this post). Just remember to use a solid email address, not your school one. What happens after you graduate and start making more professional connections? Once you receive them, carry them with you at all times. You never know where you might run into someone of interest.