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Do we still need physical business cards in a digital age?

Posted by Dale Berkebile on Sun, May 20, 2012

does text networking work in business? Do you need your cell phone at future business networking?

Being tech-savvy is great, but at the cost of losing business is not a good solution. On Friday I was at a networking event. I have been out of the face-to-face game for a while so it was fun to see how things have change since I quit networking in person. Not too much has changed in the grand scheme of things at least at this event. I thought the new digital world would have changed things, but it seemed very little.

The million dollar question though is this: Do we still need printed business cards for face-to-face networking? There all kinds of new tools out like the Bump App for iphone to trade your contact info by just bumping your iphones (not sure if it is also on other phones). Then there is the SMS type connection. So one of the guys in my group had no business cards, he gave out a number to text message another number to get his contact info.

Here is what I learned from this recent networking in counter:

  1. The Youth are open to new ideas
  2. The Elderly are not

So I am at this event right and the one overly-tech-savvy guy in the room sits down next to me. As we go around and pass out business cards he tells us to text message him at XXXX number with the message 23094389 or whatever and this would share his digital card.

So I do not think anyone texted this guy for a few reasons:

  1. First thought is spam - No Thanks!
  2. Second thought - this is too much work, Sorry!
  3. Lastly, the young guy spoke the numbers so fast that no one could get out there phones or even write down the numbers fast enough.

The important thing to understand here you must know your audience. Obviously this was not a responsive audience to this so all networking was useless. If he was in a room with all tech-savvy people maybe this could work. As a back-up always have real business cards. Business cards are not going the way of the yellow pages just yet.

This brings us to the other end of the spectrum. In this same group, I had an older gentleman, maybe in his 50's. He had another problem. When the younger guy mentioned getting out your cell phones, he mentioned he left his in the car because he didn't want to disturb the networking he was going to be doing. So what happened? Well this dated him severally. Who doesn't keep their cell phone with them at all times? Apparently anyone older than 50 could fall into this category. I would expect this where I was raised, my parents just got broadband internet this year, they had dial up. Can you imagine? Anyhow, in hill-billy land I could see this, but in the DFW Metroplex?

The point is this older gentleman is a laggard and so out of touch with technology that I could tell he would be a poor connection for me. The younger guy may have been ok if he tried using Bump, but text message me your info, this will rarely fly. So how do you cope in a super digital hi-tech world at networking? Why not try adding a QR Code to your business card. This would reach both audiences. Could this be the best of both worlds? I think so. By the way, use the QR Code to make an offer so people will want to go to the landing page and download educational info. Do not send people to your homepage that talks about how great you are. Give something of value away for free and watch the new engaged leads come flying in.

Happy hi-tech networking!

photo by Debs (ò‿ó)♪'s

Tags: QR Code, Personal Branding, Business Card Design

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