Business Cards: waste of paper or great for networking?

As one of those unemployed folks you see at the breadline (don’t worry, not being said literally so shelve those 1920s prewar grainy black and white flashbacks back into the recesses of your brains), oftentimes we end up accumulating what I call “wastes of paper.”

What constitutes as “wastes of paper” you ask?

Anything really from:

  • Pamphlets and brochures from job fairs
  • Forms that you filled out at said job fairs only to find out that it’s easily applicable online
  • Folders and booklets that you receive going to volunteer events
  • Fliers that are passed to you from street advertisers
  • Fliers from storefronts
  • Old documents (e.g.: old bills, old school forms, old notes, etc.)
  • Business cards from people who you will most likely contact once in your lifetime
  • Business cards that you pick up because it “looked cool”

If you’re anything like me, you would have a few items (if not all) of the above in your little close space. It makes you a little bit misty eyed when you reminisce on the events that transpired throughout your life that you would end up accumulating all this paper, and then you get a little bit misty eyed because you’re that sad you have a pile of paper that you could probably resurrect a sapling if Science allowed (note: all the examples of above is from my collection, so color me the latter).

Now, on the topic of business cards. How useful are they in a technologically advanced world? In a post today from Lifehacker, there is a post discussing the relevancy of business cards in today’s world. The author, Adam Dachis says that for him he uses them as a personal rolodex. On one hand I would have to agree with him, I often keep cards in a little box just so I can look back and gleam information about people quickly. The bad thing about having physical cards as opposed to having it digitally on the phone is that sometimes people aren’t at those jobs come five, ten years later. After a while those cards simply become outdated. Having information on your phone, you have the option of having them updated in an instant, all without wasting paper.

He also mentions two life-aggregating sites, flavors.me and about.me. What I found funny was that although on about.me you could literally put your whole life into one page/site, they will give you free business cards when you sign up with them (cut to me signing up with them, hello hoarder! Also, edited to add that these business cards come to you by the way of Moo.com, seems they are really hot on the irons there collaborating with different websites to bringing you personalized cards). They are great alternatives though, if you are looking to create an online business card of sorts, where someone could just plug in one specific website and get everything they need to know about you (hello stalker).

While I may seem anti-business card from my last statement, having a box of 500 (probably 498 now, I gave 2 away to two very special people who no doubt-ably had recycled them by now), and recently receiving a box of 50 from Moo.com from their Facebook offer would have me begging to differ. Personally I wouldn’t mind having information in both mediums. I do like business cards because (I’m Asian) it’s very useful. Not only do you have information at your fingertips literally, you could always use them for other purposes (folding them in half, you could use it as a shim for things, or cutting them into mini bookmarks). Another reason why you would have business cards is because some people oftentimes do not use the Internet (e.g.: technophobes and selective elderly) and having a card gives them a way of contact.

I will always carry a few handy on me for when I have a rare chance to meet someone and I have to give them a little memento to remember me by. The caveat is, that I have to carry extra weight (some of these cards are beautifully done, which means quality paper, which means heft). I suppose, a small sacrifice when you think about the people who used to haul stone tablets around.

So going back, are they useful? Sure they are. Much like printed materials, business cards aren’t really going anywhere anytime soon. Well maybe when we run out of trees but that’ll be a long time… right?

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