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Business cards

At the recommendation of fellow graduate students, I invested in a box of business cards a year or two back. The minimum order was 250. They're official University of Toronto business cards, with the shield embossed on good card stock. They're nice objects, but 250 is a very large number simply because there's no deep-seated tradition of exchanging business cards with fellow academics when you meet, unlike networking business people. Indeed, a great many of them, particularly early in their careers, have no business cards. They're not a professional necessity, although they are certainly a convenience. It saves me writing down my email address on whatever scrap of paper we collectively have handy. Additionally, a large proportion of academics have a web presence. If nothing else, they use email and that email address is trackdownable through their institutional affiliation, if they have one.

Admittedly, a business card is just as easy to lose as a scrap of paper. (I spent the last fifteen minutes looking for one that I knew I'd been given last weekend before finally finding it.) I learned early on how easy it is to forget why I accepted someone's business card. Was it because it was just offered to me and I accepted it? Was there an information-gathering purpose attached to the exchange? I try to write down why I have a business card on the back of the card as soon as I've received it for fear of forgetting. For I will forget if I don't - I have a number of cards here for which I have no memory of the person or circumstances attached to receiving it.

I give away business cards as often as I can, for I will never be able to go through all 250 of them before I finish this degree. If I do manage to, it'll be because I've found some new and more efficient method of handing them out productively, or because my degree ends up being a few years longer than I'm currently expecting it to be. At the end of my current degree, most of the information on the card willl cease to be valid, you see. My name won't have changed, but just about everything else will. At this point it's a challenge: how many cards can I legitimately give away over the course of the next few conferences, while still giving each card under normal and appropriate circumstances? It's a whole different reason to network.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 23rd, 2004 09:20 am (UTC)
Magda has business cards, and gives them out every chance she can get. She found them particularly useful when she was researching in Europe and needed to give contact information to libraries and archives and whatnot.
Haven't gotten around to it myself.
Apr. 23rd, 2004 09:35 am (UTC)
When I joined this company, I was given a large pile of business cards, of which I've distributed a few, but not many. They were the traditional white card with logo, company name and contact details on.

Two or three years back, we changed email formats, at which point all my business cards became invalid. Given the infrequency with which I gave them out, I decided not to order anymore.

Last year, we went through a rebranding excersize. As part of this, business cards went from landscape to portrait orientation, made of cheaper card, academic and professional qualifications were removed (they were intimidating to clients, apparantly, rather than being reassuring that we knew what we were talking about) and, worst of all, now have coloured backs, which means you can't even scrawl useful information on the back of them.

So, I have one set of business cards I can't give out because they are innacurate, and another set I won't give out because they're awful...
Apr. 23rd, 2004 09:42 am (UTC)
C. finally got new business cards last year, but before that, all the information on it except for his name had become invalid. The company had been bought out (and thus had changed name, email addresses, and logos), the office had moved, and his job title was wrong since he'd been promoted.

How odd that degree credentials shouldn't be taken as reassuring. I can sort of imagine that viewpoint, but personally, I'd rather know the person I was talking to was competent. That said, C. and I were just last night discussing various moves off and on to create professional certification in the IT industry - and this is clearly a move against that direction.

I've seen a few colored-back business cards before. It's a good reason to start carrying a metallic silver pen around with me at all times, just in case! I think that'd be easier to keep track of than labelling stickers, and probably more multipurpose too. Anyways, I like shiny silver ink.
Apr. 23rd, 2004 10:01 am (UTC)
I guess if you wished the company logo to be on your card, then you would be stuck with their purchase options. But if that didn't matter, Business Depot (or Grand&Toy, whichever one you're more particular to I guess) has great packages now for printing your own cards. They used to have just the flimsy white, but their options have expanded recently (thicker card material, gradients and such). Sure, it's self-printing, but atleast you will have only the amount of cards that you want. :)
Apr. 23rd, 2004 10:53 am (UTC)
No kidding. At my last employer I went through 8 boxes of cards in less than 5 years because of assorted title, address and acquisition related changes. I never used more than a third of any of them. Now for my own company I print my own in batches of whatever fits on an 8.5x11 cardstock sheet.
Apr. 23rd, 2004 11:47 am (UTC)
Now for my own company I print my own in batches of whatever fits on an 8.5x11 cardstock sheet.

I've done the same in the past (although I like the packages that includes perforated edges, 'cause my cutting skills aren't the best, lol!) I think my info changes every eight months roughly.
Apr. 23rd, 2004 11:50 am (UTC)
I use the perforated ones too.
Apr. 23rd, 2004 12:09 pm (UTC)
Ah. I thought you meant you did your own cuts by a paper cutter. :)
Apr. 23rd, 2004 01:34 pm (UTC)
does it just say "graduate student" on it, or something more formal?

I can't even imagine what mine would say...

ps. you never gave me your card. In Japan, that would be considered rude. :D
Apr. 24th, 2004 09:24 am (UTC)
I would love to take one of those business cards off your hands, owlfish! I have thought off and on of getting some of my own, but wasn't sure how pretentious I'd look handing them out to people. I was given the idea by a fellow grad student I met at a conference in Montreal. Anyhow, I'd love to see yours, to see what you put on it and what format you used, etc.
Apr. 25th, 2004 07:43 am (UTC)
And you're very, very welcome to have one of them, too!

If you do get them, I now know there's one bit of information I could have done differently: Denise said it would have been better if I'd put the main office number on them rather than the common room. I hadn't realized I could impose that way!

How was your daughter's visit?
May. 8th, 2004 08:02 am (UTC)
Giving away all those cards
Sometimes you need to give cards out under not-normal or un-appropriate circumstances. I recently purchased 1000 cards (yea that's alot!) from GreatFX Business Cards (http://www.greatfxbusinesscards.com). I designed them online and they turned out really cool. My business cards are now a conversational piece. Making your card appear valuable seems to be the key to being successfull in using business cards (and getting lots of callbacks!) Hand them out like candy, you never know when some obscure person might be your next big account or contact.

Hope this helps!
May. 11th, 2004 09:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Giving away all those cards
So true... I gave away quite a few of them at Kalamazoo, not as many as I could have, but far more than I've managed at previous conventions, so that was a step in the right direction. Admittedly, when I say "quite a few" I mean at most ten of them. I'll keep working at this.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )