7 Practical Tips for Better Professional Networking Business Cards

Who hasn’t come away from a professional conference with a stack of exchanged business cards? Most of them will probably be still sitting on your desk in 6 months time if you’re anything like me. How can you get yourself remembered and create those important network connections with your peers?

A few of my friends were impressed with the cards I made for my attendance a Problogger Event 2014, so I decided to make this article on how to do it. So here’s some practical tips on how to create an effective professional networking business card.

1. Create a Professional Profile Website and Put the Address on Your Card

If you have a number of projects or portfolio items to show off you probably can’t fit them easily on one business card. Even if you do, you want to be making it as easy for people to look at them. You can have one single website that links to your portfolio items, resume, previous employers, previous and current projects, Twitter feed, LinkedIn profile, etc, etc, etc. Being something you own, you can portray yourself in the way you want.

I’m not going to tell you how to build your own website. There’s plenty of existing resources. Instead I’ll link you to a few of my favourite resources that will show you how to do it yourself using WordPress.

A website will need a hosting provider. You don’t necessarily have to pay for one yourself, you could use wordpress.com for free WordPress hosting. The trade off there is that your site address with be like yourname.wordpress.com, instead of yourname.com or yourname.com.au.

If you are in the technology business or just want to look better, you should probably buy your own site address like yourname.com and pay for hosting it somewhere. I would recommend using Crazy Domains(I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you use this link) to purchase your domain and host it. I have used them for most of my sites and have found their service excellent. They have a one click option for installing WordPress on your site.

Once you’ve got your site, put the address on the card. Leave out the “http://”, it’s just wasted space, most people can recognise a website address when they see one.

2. Let Me Know Who You Are

At Problogger last weekend I received a whole range of different types of business cards, from the flashy designs to the simple minimalisms. Looking at some of them I can totally remember the conversation I had with the person who gave me them. For others I’ve had to rack my brain to recall.

Be sure that your card has references to (or links to) the key things you want to be known for. If I’m talking to people about SEO and your card is for your design company I probably won’t remember who you were when I look at it.

So be sure to include your claims to fame on the card, whether it be skills, experience, projects or businesses. Whatever you want to promote.

3. Include a Picture

My professional face picture
My professional face picture

Consider including a small picture of yourself on your card. Most of us will remember faces much more easily than names. If you include your picture, when I look at your card I’ll remember exactly who you were!

Choose your photo carefully. A face picture will be the best. You want to look good, but it’s not a glamour shot. Unless you’re a model.

If you use the same picture on your professional profile on LinkedIn and on other social media feeds it’ll help your recognition.

4. Include a QR Code Contact Card

My QR Code Contact Card
My QR Code Contact Card

You’ve got your name, postal address, mobile phone, email address and website address to include on your card. That’s a fair bit for your contacts to type into their phone address book. You can make it easier for them by using a QR Code.

There’s lots of software available for making QR Codes, but I just used The QR Code Generator website. Select the Contact tab and enter the details you need. Then click the orange Save button.

Add the saved image file to your business card. Make sure it’s large enough to be clearly scanned. I made mine about 34mm x 34mm. You may not need to make it that big though. Do a test print and try it out with your phone camera. I use QR Reader for iPhone. There are similar apps for Android.

5. Don’t Spend Too Much

Don’t spend too much on flashy design or special card. Your card is likely going to be lost in someone’s drawer for the next 2 years. 

In most cases your card is going to have a short useful life. What you really want to achieve is to get your contacts to look at your personal profile site and connect with you on LinkedIn, Twitter, email or phone. So your card just needs to deliver your contact details. It doesn’t have to be fancy cardboard or amazing design for that to happen.

For my Problogger cards I just got 100 printed on standard card at my local office supply store, OfficeWorks. I took my PDF to the store and they printed them overnight for just $23(single sided).

6. You Can Do It Yourself in Word

Sure a designer could do a fantastic job for you and if you have the finances go for it. In my case I had no time and not much money, so I just use a template that was included in Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac OS X.

The templates are designed to print 8 to an A4 piece of card. If you have a good quality printer and a guillotine, you could do it this way. As mentioned above though I got mine done at the office shop, which saved me a lot of time and a better result in my opinion.

If you are getting your printing done professionally you’ll need to modify the template document:

  1. Remove all but one copy of the card from the document.
  2. Set the page size to Custom, width 100mm, height 65mm. See this page from OfficeWorks website.
  3. Set the margins to 5mm on all sides.
  4. Adjust your layout to make it fit neatly inside the margins, taking into account they’ll be trimmed along the margins.

Save your document as a PDF and put it on a USB stick to take to the store. If you’re asking your wife to do it for you, don’t forget to tell her what your filename is(I did, oops).

7. Follow up

You may not be the most exciting person your contact met at the conference. Make follow up contact with the person you met within a week or so of the conference. To effectively build a network you need to do more than just connect to them on LinkedIn or follow them on Twitter.

Send them a message by some format, preferably email, saying hi and expressing your appreciation of meeting them. Refer to the content of your discussion and try to find a way to help your contact with no expectation in return. If you have a proposal for them, be sure you to pitch it from their perspective. How will it benefit them?

The classic reference for building a network is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. If you haven’t read this book, buy it now on Kindle and read it. Refer to it regularly. Another great reference is The Art of Charm Podcast. There are heaps of networking related episodes, but I suggest you may want to start on this one about likeability.

So how did my cards work out for me at Problogger Event?

I handed out about 30 cards and my profile website got about 15 hits. Not a bad rate in my opinion. I suspect I’ll get more as I continue following up with my contacts from Problogger Event 2014.

My card from Problogger Event

I didn’t do everything that I had wanted to. I only really implemented 4 of my 6 tips – I didn’t have a picture and I didn’t have a skills list. I was rushed. It was Monday night when I realised I still didn’t have any cards made up. I made this website, made the QR codes and made the cards just before midnight. My wife took them the next day to print.

Fortunately I did have my skills list and photo on the profile website, so that should help my recognition. A number of people I met did seem impressed with the cards, so I wrote this article. I’ll report back in the future on how it works out long term!