In the right context, a business card can do a lot of these tasks. However, there may be situations and industries where a paper card isn’t the right choice. For instance, pulling out a stack of cards at a conference addressing deforestation will set the wrong tone. Or if you’re at the gym, you may have your phone, but not your wallet or business card holder.
What alternatives are out there? In broad terms, alternatives divide into two categories: electronic and physical, plus a few items that are hybrids of both.
Phone apps are an attractive alternative because it’s rare you’d be in a business or social setting without your phone. In the past, apps like Bump were limited because both people had to have downloaded the app to exchange information. Newer apps like Inigo and Clinck let you send your contact information as an email, so it doesn’t matter if the other person doesn’t have the app. Users can share virtual cards through the Inigo app or via Twitter, plus the app can scan and save physical cards.
You can also create a virtual business card with a service like Prestoh, which can build a card from your LinkedIn data. QR codes are options on card alternatives because they can take users to bonus material like YouTube videos. However, keep in mind that not everyone is familiar or comfortable with scanning QR codes.
Physical items can still work, whether it’s a resource card, a glossy brochure, beverage coasters, magnets, and even more unusual choices. For example, if you work in carpentry and cabinets, a wooden trivet or a carpenter’s pencil with your information is the type of thing a customer won’t throw away.
Hybrid items are also worth considering. A branded flash drive is a physical item you can hand a new contact. Not only are they unlikely to throw away a re-usable drive, but you can include your contact information plus pictures, customer testimonial videos, coupons, and more. You can go online to companies like Staples and 4imprint to order flash drives, but keep in mind you’re paying for both the brand on the drive, and the cost of loading any data.
Business cards may still be a part of your playbook, but remember that these alternatives don’t have to replace those cards—they can be an addition to them. Arm your business with tools for a variety of situations, and then fill that contacts list with some useful new friends.
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