The exchange of business cards has been a corporate ritual for well over a century. They communicate who you are, where you work, your position within a company and how to contact you. They’ve always been a popular tool for introductions to  clients, vendors and business partners and team members.

Kodak business card - 1979I’ve been working in business for over thirty years. My first job out of college was as a systems analyst with the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, NY. It seemed fitting that my first business card from Kodak had my (youthful) photo on the front. In fact, the entire card itself was a photographic print, cut to the size of a traditional business card.

When I started my own consulting business ten years later in 1989, I designed a new card displaying my new company logo, company name, my name, title, phone number, fax number and mailing address. No email address or website URL yet — they didn’t exist.

Six years later, I reprinted my cards with a freshly designed logo and my first email address. I’ve used a variation of this basic card design for years — until today.

Social Media Influence

The explosion of social media over the last two years has made me rethink both the content and design of my business card. Here’s what I’ve changed and why:

  • Front Design. I want my card to have a clean and modern design, containing only the information I need — and no more.
  • Name and Company. As a consultant, I’m really selling my own personal expertise to clients, not a company name. In other words, I am my brand. To emphasize this point, I removed my company name, Beato Enterprises Inc., and am just using my logo to succinctly display my brand: Beato.
  • Title. My previous card had my title: President. But what does it tell you about what I actually do? Not much. I’ve served many technology roles and worked on a variety of communications projects over the last 20 years. I didn’t want to limit myself to a single printed title going forward, so I left my title off completely.
  • Phone number. Although my preferred method of communication is email, I still wanted to have a phone number printed. But I switched from my office phone number to my Google Voice number. I can now control whether incoming calls go to my office phone, and/or cell phone or direct to voicemail. It gives me more control.
  • Fax. Yes, I have a fax number. But no, I do not want to receive faxes! It’s gone — no fax number printed.
  • Email. Of course I included my email address, but made it a different one. My first address was mbeato@beato.com, following a popular convention at the time. But now I’m using mike@beato.com, which directly communicates my personal brand: me!
  • Website. Yes.
  • Twitter handle. Yes, I’m a very active Twitter user.
  • Mailing address. The only business I do via postal mail is receiving checks from clients — and that’s important. But since I always include my mailing address on my invoices, there’s no reason to also put it on the card.
  • QR Code. I considered printing a QR Code on the card containing my contact information, but ultimately decided against it. I’m not convinced the technology is going to take off, and I didn’t want it cluttering the card’s design.
  • Back Design. The back of the card is intentionally left blank. That gives me a place to add any piece of information by hand, such as a cell phone number, mailing address or other miscellaneous notes.

Finally, to make it the ultimate personal business card, tailored specifically for social media, I added a photo of myself to the front of the card. Yes, that means I’ve gone full-circle from my first Kodak business card!