Friday, May 29, 2009

The Disappearing Card Trick

In a recent meeting with a client I was told that a number of companies are dispensing with business cards to be 'environmentally friendly'. I'm not sure this is such a good idea.

My views on business cards are fairly well known. I think they are given away too freely at networking events and in a meaningless way by many people. All too often cards are exchanged at the beginning of a conversation, hastily pocketed and then binned because there was no reason for the exchange.

That doesn't mean I would dispense with them completely.

Perhaps it's the case that the companies who have made this decision haven't clearly thought through why they give people business cards. I remember the first job where I was given a business card, it was almost like a right of passage. I had no need for them whatsoever, but it made me feel important.

That's not what cards are for, I'd have no problem with those cards being dropped for environmental reasons.

Similarly, cards are often exchanged at the beginning of a meeting where the participants have been exchanging phone calls and emails for weeks beforehand. They have each others' full contact details and have no need for any further information on a business card.

I'd have no problem with those cards being dropped for environmental reasons.

Cards do have a use though, particularly when networking. They serve as an aide to enable people who have just met to follow up with each other and as a tool to remind us what we promised. They can also be passed to third parties as a form of referral.

Scrapping business cards altogether is simply short sighted and an overreaction. The companies involved should have simply looked at what cards are used for, who needs them and educated their staff how to use them effectively.

That would be good for the environment, and for their business.


  1. As always, Andy, 100% to the point and 100% true.

    Let's all be educators.


  2. Great points. Those kinds of knee-jerk reactions don't do anyone any favours.

    A well branded business card is really important to help you stand out from the crowd and be remembered long after your new contacts have gone home from the networking event. Drop them at your peril!