Don’t Be Caught Cardless

It happens often. I’ll be attending a convention or a conference and ask the person for their business card at the same time I offer them my card. The other person will rummage in their briefcase or bag and not be able to produce the card. Sometimes they will take an extra business card from me then scratch out their name, email and phone number on the back of my card then hand it back. Other times they will make a note and promise to send me their information–which sometimes happens and sometimes never happens.

Why should I care? I have a broad network of friends, acquaintances and people who have crossed my path over the last 20 years in the publishing community. After I’ve been in one of these settings, I return to my office and add their information into my database. If I’ve known them for a while, I check that business card to see if any of their information has changed–and often it has changed so I fix my records. Our society is incredibly mobile. I don’t use the information often yet these business cards provide a means of access. You don’t want to be caught without a business card.

Another frequent situation is where I meet an editor toward the end of a conference and we talk for a few minutes. I ask for their card and they say, “Oh, I didn’t bring enough and what few cards I brought were gone in the first day.” When this happens, I have to do something proactive to write down their information or some other means to get it. A number of times, I’ve been one of the few people in the room to receive this contact information from a speaker.

Several of my long-time friends have told me they collect my various business cards. I’m sure they have quite an array of different companies and locations. You want to make sure your card gives a physical mailing address, a phone number and an email address. You can be selective which address or phone number or email address that you include but it should have all of these elements. Also I have different business cards for different purposes. One card touts my writing credentials while another card promotes a particular book or another aspect of my work.

In preparation for my forthcoming conference season (check this link for my various speaking opportunities), I’ve made a business card for Whalin Literary Agency. For the first time, I used Overnight Prints and was impressed with the quality (and low cost) of their work.

With a bit of preparation, you will be able to make sure you aren’t caught cardless.

6 Responses to “Don’t Be Caught Cardless”

  1. C.J. Darlington Says:

    Awhile back I had business cards printed up after reading one of your posts on this subject. I used Vistaprint, but I’ll have to check out this other source.

  2. Richard Mabry Says:

    You’re exactly right about cards. They’re invaluable. I’ve also had cards made up that give the details (including ISBN number) for my book, The Tender Scar. I put several of them inside any copy of the book that I sell, so that readers can recommend it to their friends.
    I started out using VistaPrint because their cards are free (if you allow them to put their info on the back). When I saw how much I was using cards, I switched to Overnight Prints and have been extremely pleased with the professional quality of their work. I believe that the striking, eye-appealing work they deliver is worth the cost.
    Thanks for continuing to give us useful information. Good luck in the new venture.

  3. Cindy Thomson Says:

    When I first started attending conferences, my husband told me I needed business cards. It’s a fact of life in the business world. He is always after to me to make sure I have them no matter where I’m going. You never know who you might meet.

    I use Overnight Prints also. They do great work. I used them for post cards too.

  4. Heather Ivester Says:

    Thanks for this reminder. Like C.J., I also purchased business cards a while back after reading one of your posts. My cards have a picture that matches my blog and they simply say “writer.”

    I just got back from the SCBWI conference in New York, and I was surprised at how few writers carried a business card! The conference planners printed up a list of attendees, so I had to circle people’s names from this list.

    There were a couple of great opportunities to exchange business cards with editors looking for writers for an educational publisher. I was so happy to have something professional to give them. So THANKS!! 🙂

  5. Heather Ivester Says:

    I forgot to add that my cards DO contain my contact information!

    Also, I used VistaPrint, and they were very inexpensive and good quality. I got to play around with the template a little bit, so that made it seem more personal.

  6. Glenn Says:

    I’ve carried the same card case for 20 years. It’s brass, unobtrusively fits into my shirt pocket, and is a visual reminder to always take cards with me. I also stash some in my glove compartment, Moleskine journal, my wallet, and in my briefcase. You never know when you’ll have the opportunity to network.



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