Business card simplicity

Steve Rubel writes on personal presence online, considering where to focus people’s attention via the humble business card on where you are online.

I see lots of business cards and most have line after line of addresses of websites, blogs, one or more social networks, Twitter… not to mention phone (switchboard and direct), mobile, fax (yes, some people still have those). Plus physical address which can add four or more lines.

Things get pretty crowded.

Steve’s point is a good one:

For the last four years I had two URLs on my business card – my employer’s web site and my blog. But recently, when I went to order a refill, I changed the plan. 

I of course kept the link to EdelmanDigital.com. However, with space limited, rather than directing people to yet another web site (this one) I indicated where they can find me on the sites where I know they are already spending time, Twitter and Facebook. So far, I am glad that I did.

He goes on to talk about how he’s developing community in those two online places and what the benefits are to him and to his community.

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I have a similar view, ie, the minimalist approach to business cards.

My current card, pictured here, has a one-line office address, two phone numbers that reach me directly (no switchboard filter), my Twitter handle and my email address.

You’ll note there’s no website address. I decided not to include any, neither my company nor my own, as the focus will be on Twitter as the single online presence to find me. That’s the place I give more attention to than any other place online, and is my second-preference contact method.

I’ve also experimented with mobile bar codes with my previous business cards when I was an independent consultant. I found that experience more bleeding edge than useful. Plus, the codes don’t fit with the design of my current card.

If people want to connect with you online, giving them a single place to start with makes it easy for them and efficient for you, but only if you have your ducks properly lined up online.

So you may give people one, two places at most, where they’ll easily find you and where you tend to be engaged most. When they get there, you should make it equally easy for people to see how broad and deep your presence is elsewhere with links to other places you frequent or use.

A simple way to do that is with a Google Profile. Mine, for instance, shows almost every social place on the web where I have a presence (which isn’t the same as where you can usually find me).

Whatever you do and however you do it, keep it clear and simple.

(Top photo by natashalcd, used under Creative Commons license.)

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. mj

    Funny – I went the other way for my last two cards.

    Just says CIMOTA on one side. People can find me.

  2. Mark Sharman

    Thanks for a great post Neville. I think that the mobile barcode idea is a good one that will come in time – perhaps still a bit early.

    I like the Google Profile but for some time I have used a free Magntize account as a central repository of where you can find me online and what I’m doing there. I have set up a subdomain of my main domain name that redirects to my Magntize account and now thats the only thing I put on my business cards. I also use it as my main link from Twitter and other social media sites.

    • neville

      Agree re mobile barcodes, Mark: the time has yet to come for universal embrace.

      Thanks for the link to Magntize. Looks interesting although I see nothing that compels me to switch from Google Profile.

  3. Meghan Callahan

    Thank you so much for this insightful post. I am a senior public relaions major at Georgia Southern University planning on graduating in May. I took a class last summer called Public Relations Publications in which we were to design our own letterhead and business card. I decided to print my business card on black paper with blue lettering so my card would stand out and be visually appealing. My professor gave me an A on the project, however, my father, a CEO of a fortune 500 company thought it was way too unconventional. I was hoping to get your thoughts? When it comes to the PR field is there more room for an artistic direction or should you keep it plain and direct?

    • neville

      Thanks, Meghan, glad you found it helpful.

      To your question re artistic direction, it’s a tricky one as this is much to do with subjective opinion. But I would trust your first instinct: you created something that would stand out and be visually appealing. You got an A grade for it to boot. Go with it, just don’t show it to your dad ;)

      There’s not really a hard and fast rule about business cards any more. They need to work harder than ever before to convey something about you that gets someone’s attention.

      To support that view, just take a glance at the thousands of different designs, styles and concepts in the collection of photos on Flickr under the tag businesscards. An astonishing variety. And all trying to stand out and catch your attention.

      You’re in good company.

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