In this day and age, networking is absolutely essential for job search success. It is no longer enough to simply apply to positions that you find online. You have to go out and meet real people if you wish to find hidden opportunities. When you travel around to various networking groups, it is important to hand your new connections a piece of personal collateral, which, like your resume, represents your career brand. Enter the business card!
When someone is trying to find you quickly to share a job lead or to ask you for help making a connection, your business card becomes a critical key to your for success. While you can use your business card from a current employer (if you have one), consider the value of creating a new card for networking purposes. Your card should obviously have key details about you, such as your name and contact information, but there are a variety of other things that you can do to separate yourself from the crowd:
- Your card should represent you – if you are a vibrant, exuberant person, you may want to choose a colorful template for your card. This is your card - let it shine with your personal style.
- Your card design may be different based on your industry or profession. For example, engineers and accountants might opt for a more traditional card, while marketing and sales professionals might choose a flashy background.
- Your goal as both a networker and a candidate is to be memorable. Consider adding a list of the skills that differentiate you from your competition to the back of your business card. This will help fellow networkers and interviewers remember you easily without having to look up your information.
- While there are many free business card services on the web, the catch is that these printers put their name on the back of your card as a form of advertising. While this may save you a few dollars, recruiters might perceive this as less professional. Additionally, these free business cards are limited to a small subset of design templates so there is a greater chance that your card will end up looking like someone else's. Similar to wearing the same dress at the prom, you do not want to have the same card that your new connection has.
- If you choose to print your cards at home, consider that the person you hand them to will probably notice that. Cards that are printed at home typically have slightly jagged edges and significantly thinner paper than traditionally printed cards. Additionally, if you use an inkjet printer, the text will not look as sharp. Consider having your cards printed by a printing company to complement your professional image.
- If you decide to put a picture of yourself on your card, make sure that it is a professional photo. Digital cameras are everywhere nowadays so this should be a simple task. Remember that this card may be passed among many people so it is critical that you look your best. But, don't feel that you need your picture on your card - a majority of the cards I've received don't have them.
- You card is your card whether you are employed or not. This card can be used at networking events before and after you start your new job, so do not indicate whether you are employed or not on the card.
- If you have a choice of coatings such as "UV" or "Aqueous" on your card, ideally keep one side (typically the back side) uncoated to make it easy for people to write notes on your card after they meet you. Your printer may describe the lack of a coating as "matte" or "dull". And, remember to leave some white space on the back of your card so that other people can jot down information about you when they meet you.
Absolutely Abby’s Advice:
A few weeks ago, I wrote about my concept of the Never Ending Interview. In this post I remind you that everything you do, say, and write is being evaluated at all times. Your business card, or lack thereof is one of those items that you will be judged on, so it is critical that it represents the best you. Create a card that you can be proud of and it will automatically enhance your confidence when you hand it out. And confidence is clearly the way to win the prize!