I know, I know, business cards can sound stodgy, especially to a student! But in case you haven’t heard, networking is so important in today’s job market, and while LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social networking sites can help, there’s something about face-to-face contacts that really stands out, and if you find yourself in a situation where exchanging contact information feels like a great idea, a business card is great to have handy!
When I went to the ALA Annual Conference last month, I was so glad I had business cards to exchange with other library students and librarians, and it surprised me every time people didn’t have a business card! I’ve also been to a couple of North Carolina Library Association networking mixers this summer, and was surprised again by the lack of business cards to exchange.
I’m fortunate to have some business cards supplied by my employer, I’ll admit that. I didn’t have to make a choice about design (I used our standard template) or what to put on it (standard work info). I have considered getting personal business/contact cards as well for my non-work life, cards that show my cell phone number, Gmail address, and blog address(es), but I haven’t made that purchase yet. I was delighted to get personalized (and tastefully designed) business cards from other library students at ALA, a handy way to help stay in touch later, especially since Facebook has traded out personal email addresses for Facebook email addresses. (You can go in and edit your own email address on your Facebook page, but I find many people haven’t.)
At ALA Annual, I exchanged quite a few business cards, and once I got home, I remembered who most of the “owners” were, but there are a few whose faces I’d forgotten. Taking time to write something about that person, like where I met them, often helped jog my memory once I got home from the conference.
I found several online articles about the virtues of grad students (and others) having business (or contact) cards just by searching the phrase “grad students business cards.” One of my favorites is “Hacking Your Business Card” by Mark Sample. One of the interesting tips in the article is to write something on your business card before handing it to someone. I think I’ll try this idea out for a while, instead of ordering non-work business cards, perhaps writing my Twitter handle, the URL for this blog, or a reminder of where/how the business card recipient and I have just met. Check the comments below the article for some more good business card tips from readers.
There are numerous ways to get your own business cards inexpensively if you don’t work for a company that provides them. You can even print them yourself! One company I’ve heard of that has a variety of designs at a cheap price is VistaPrint, which sells 250 cards for $10. Great deal!
So don’t wait until you get a job to get your first order of business cards! I remember when I got my first business cards. I felt so professional; I bet you will too! Then challenge yourself to pass out your first order before you graduate by looking for great networking opportunities. Laying the groundwork now, and getting your name out there, will pay off in all sorts of ways!