When trying to brand yourself, a business card is a little piece of your brand that you give to people to remember you. I’ve seen many cards over the years and most are kept in a box on my desk in the basement, which I barely use. I suspect that this is the common condition for most cards that don’t get put in the trash. I do keep a number of cards accessible: those people who I do want to keep in contact with and those cards that caught my eye. You want to be in that last category for everyone if you are going to make it in any industry.

So many cards are badly made using Word templates and hideous colors. Some people just don’t care, since they see it as just their name and number. What you have to realize is that this card is carrying your brand. Since a card is one of the first things most people see of you, you must think that if it doesn’t impress them, then why would the rest of your brand impress them?

A card has to be sticky (memorable) and just scream “I’m Important, So Remember Me!”. It also has to be clear about who you are, and what you stand for. If you’re in a creative field, then boring template cards will not help. If you’re looking at getting into senior care, then a grunge look is not going to get you calls. Base the look and feel of your card on your brand. This should match with your website/persona/industry.

Here are a few ideas on how to go about making your card ‘stick’:

  1. Your name. If you don’t have a company name, or are using this card outside the company you work for, then make sure your name is prominent on the card. Nothing is worse than having to scan a card for a name once its handed to you
  2. Your Logo. If you do have a logo, make sure its clear on your card and people don’t think its just a graphic. A logo is easier to remember than a name sometimes, and it makes your brand connect.
  3. Photo. Faces are hard to remember, especially at a networking event. Unless you have something distinguishable about yourself, like a 2 foot mohawk, or the biggest Fu Manchu mustache ever seen, then there’s a good chance your face melts into the crowd. To prevent this, include a photo on your business card. Here you can be serious, smile like a Jack Nicholson or look very mean. Either way, your face will be accessible to anyone you have given your card to. Make sure your photo is well done, get a professional, check to make sure color is good (no one likes an orange face), and don’t just pick the first one you like. Take time because this is what people will recognize you from for the future.
  4. Contact Info. Keep your contact info simple and neat. You don’t need to include your Facebook account, MySpace Page, home address and waist size. A simple email, phone and website is sufficient for people to get a hold of you or read up on you.
  5. Material. The regular white paper makes your card clean and crisp. Go for a thicker paper with grain if you want it to look better. You can also get cards made of plastic, metal, wood, rubber , ones that fold or are die-cut, and many other ideas. If you’re in a creative industry, the more creative (yet fits in a wallet) the more it will stand out. I’ve been trying to figure out for a few years how to use a metal business card. Oh, and unless you’re an insurance agent or pizza shop, magnets are last decade’s model. Move on.
  6. Font. A font says a lot about you as a person. Clean crisp fonts are a business standard, but there are variations if you want to get away from Arial and Time New Roman. Choose one that suits your brand. And never use Comic Sans. Ever.

Personal cards are great for getting new contacts outside of work, and make it easy to contact you if you switch jobs. Building your personal brand is important even when working full time, since you never know when you’ll need to show yourself off in the future.

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