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Common Questions and Answers
Business cards are a surprisingly effective networking tool. Even if your company provides you with standardized business cards, it may be worth your while to craft a card of your own to distribute. Having a few hundred of your own cards printed is actually quite cheap, if you avoid extremely fancy design features.
In most cases, a simply formatted and conservative card design is not only cheaper to print but also sends a more professional message. Just how formal your card should be depends in part on your industry and the type of prospects you sell to. For example, someone selling financial products should stick with a very conservative card design, because most people prefer a conservative and risk-averse financial adviser. On the other hand, if you sell art supplies to painters and craftspeople, you’ll want a fancier and more visually exciting card, because most of your prospects will have a strong graphic eye and will feel more comfortable with you if your cards appeal to their aesthetic sense.
Using a conventional card design will result in a much smaller expense for you. A salesperson can easily hand out through hundreds of cards in a single event, so if you’re a regular attendee on the trade show circuit, printing costs may be a significant factor. If your budget is fairly flexible, on the other hand – or your company is paying for your cards – then you’ll have more options, such as unusual shapes, formats and card materials. For example, wooden business cards have become popular with entrepreneurs and designers.
The standard business card is a 2″ by 3.5″ rectangle on paper card stock. The heavier the card stock you use, the more durable the cards will be — but a heavier card stock will also be more expensive. Keep in mind as well that you won’t be able to fit as many thick cards in a card case. You can choose any color for your card stock and print, but be sure to choose a combination of colors that’s easy to read. Dark print on a dark card or light print on a light card will be all but illegible and is a waste of your money. The traditional black print on white card stock is the easiest format to read, even in poor light.
Business cards generally include at least the person’s name, company name, address and phone number. Today’s business cards may also include email address, Twitter username and other social media accounts, company website, and professional titles or certifications. It’s best to put all your information on the front of the card and leave the back blank so that when you distribute cards, the recipients can jot down notes on that side.
Office supply stores sell a self-printable card template that you can load into your office printer to print out your own cards. But unless you have absolutely no budget for business cards, stick with professionally printed cards. The self-printed cards are usually easily recognizable to others and send the message that you either don’t care about how your cards look or can’t afford anything better, either of which is unfortunate for a salesperson.
Once you’ve chosen your design and your new cards have arrived, don’t simply hand them out to everyone you meet. The professional and courteous approach is to ask for the other person’s card first. When he hands you his card, glance at it and make a comment about some detail. Your remark can be something as simple as, “Nice design, where did you have these printed?” or even “I didn’t know you had a Cisco certification.” At that point he will almost certainly ask for your card in exchange. If he doesn’t, don’t press your card on him anyway. After all, now that you have his card you can contact him when you’re ready to proceed.
About the author
My first sales position was a summer job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I continued through a variety of sales jobs ranging from retail sales for a storage company to selling bank products for a Fortune 500 financial institution.
As a small business owner, I now focuses on selling for my own company, Tailored Content, a website content provider. I write on a wide range of topics but my primary focus is sales and how to sell effectively.