Personal Business Cards: What They Are and How to Use Them
by Diana Ratliff
These days, a "one size fits all" approach to using business cards is seldom smart. There are more contact options than ever before. And less people today are content to be identified by their business persona during non-business hours. We want to distance ourselves from our work, especially in social situations.
A personal networking card is the answer - a card that you create to highlight your personality and interests rather than your company affiliation.
Unlike conventional business cards that are often bland or generic-looking, a business card crafted to suit your personality and interests will usually be colorful and engaging. And rather than focusing on your status or proficiency in a particular industry, a personal business card allows you to bypass titles and business trappings to reveal only what you choose to reveal.
Is a personal business card right for you? Consider these reasons to use one:
They allow you to disguise potentially unwelcome information
There are times when making a company affiliation known, as is customary on a standard business card, can cause problems.
Maybe you're attending a trade show to scout out the competition and want to remain anonymous. Perhaps you're job-hunting and want to keep your current employment on a confidential basis. You may be tired of intrusive questions ("You're a doctor, huh? I've had this back pain") or assumptions based on the information on your card.
They allow you to highlight what's important to you and to people you meet
It's both satisfying and downright fun to design your own card, especially with the abundance of beautiful, full-color business card templates available today. There are backgrounds to suit nearly every hobby or interest.
Whether you chase balloons or chase children, plant flowers or plant ideas, you can let the world know about it on a personal card. You can include a quote that has meaning to you or advocate a cause that's important to you. And even if you're not one to air your beliefs in public, an elegant card with simple contact information is certainly preferable to many company cards.
Even in business situations, personal business cards can help you stand out, especially if you're limited to generic, company-designed business cards.
They allow people who are not "in business" to benefit from the advantages of having a business card
Creating a business card for family use, for example, has advantages you've probably never considered. Not only is it a fun family activity to create a card with a funny graphic that reflects your love of bicycling, for example, but family networking cards are incredibly convenient.
It may be as simple as FINALLY having a card to drop into the fish bowl to win a free meal at the local restaurant. (I always resented the fact that if I didn't have a business card I couldn't enter the drawing.)
Adults can give them to relatives, friends, neighbors and co-workers who may want or need your personal contact information. And it sure beats scrounging in your purse for a scrap of paper when someone asks for your phone number!
Kids can pass them out to friends, but even more important, a family card can be used as an addition to your family's safety plan. Making sure caregivers and babysitters know where to reach you at all times is important. It's also a good idea to make sure your children have a few copies of your card on them. If they're lost, they or a helpful adult can quickly locate you.
Design your personal business cards now!
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