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Business Cards Suck

What follows is a raw, completely unedited (sorry) excerpt from the next book I’m in the process of writing (you can preorder it here).  In it, I expound on my… unorthodox, to say the least… view of business cards.

A good chunk of you are likely to think I’m crazy, an idiot, and perhaps an asshole.  I won’t say you’re wrong.

If you’re looking to break into the audio-side of the games industry, I’m writing this book for you.  So if you’re overwhelmed by information on the internet, don’t know what to focus on, read too many threads on Reddit and Twitter, can’t focus, are stuck in a catch-22 where you need experience to get hired but can’t get it without being hired, or super depressed and never think you’ll get a shot… This one’s for you.  I’m bringing my industry pals in to voice their opinions (that may not agree with me) too.  Again – preorder here.

Otherwise, enjoy part of my rant on why business cards suck.

Before I get going let me clearly state that the following is my opinion alone. You’re welcome to experiement and take my advice – in fact I’d encourage it. But you won’t hear this many others (if any at all).  I can tell you from experience that it works for me, even if others disagree.  Lastly – if you take my opinion as “the right one” and that others are wrong, you’re incorrect.  I hold some opinions strongly, but I’m usually happy to let other people have theirs and disagree with me – you should too.

I think business cards are completely worthless.

Let me illustrate a scenario I find extremely common in the actual practice of using business cards…

At an industry-related event (meetup, conference, etc.) you meet a great, wonderful person who also happens to be in a position where they could help you advance your career. Perhaps even, in the best of scenarios, you’re in a position where you can reciprocate. But, as it’s the first time you’ve met, you need to exchange information.

Good thing you were ready for this moment – in fact you anticipated the multitudes of these you were about to have – you bought business cards!

(Well, let’s be fair, you probably bought them online and it advertises a company’s name on the back because you didn’t want to pay to take that off… or perhaps you did, but you didn’t go order nice business cards from a printer so they’re still not super high quality.)

Jokes aside, your conversation eventually gets to a variation on this question:

“Hey, do you have a card I can grab from you?”

Whether you’re asking or the other individual is, this is the time where you do your best to break out your respective business cards. Regardless of if only one person or both parties have them, you do this slightly awkward dance of breaking the conversation to find the cards and hand them to each other. This is followed by at least a throwaway customary remark of “oh awesome, thanks!” followed by shoving the card somewhere temporarily safe. There’s also the chance that one of you has an interesting design and you both end up chatting about it a bit. Either way, there’s eventually another awkward outro-dance where you either say goodbye or get back to your original conversation.

Herein lies the problem – the contact information is stashed immediately. There’s a requirement here to go back to it, to act on this information again somehow. You’ll need to not only look at the card again, but remember the person specifically and get their information into your phone. Even if you do that, you’re trusting the other person will too. Plus, for best results you’ll need to follow up later to keep establishing the relationship and remind them of you.

If you’re meeting lots of people at once, it’s extremely difficult to keep everyone in memory much less act on all of this afterwards.

While I understand at large conferences it may be super good social etiquette to exchange business cards, I do want to argue that I don’t think this is the best way to exchange information and build a relationship.

So that I’m being clear, let me specifically outline the ways I think business cards fail you and the other party.

  • You have to buy lots of scraps of paper with your contact info on them. Presumably most of this (except your phone number) is available online already.
  • Once exchanging cards, you and the other party have an equal conundrum of the following points.
  • The business card inherently requires at minimum 2 interactions.
  • You need to keep the other party’s business card long enough to transfer its information to a useful place.
  • You need to remember the other party and the conversation long enough to appropriately act on the business card a 2nd time.
  • You need to trust that the other party is going to do all of this previous action, just like you.

Literally 100% of the time I’ve handed out a business card, this process breaks down somewhere. Either I don’t do the appropriate legwork to utilize the information well, or the other party doesn’t.

If it’s not clear enough already, I have a 100% failure rate of getting work via passing out my business card. Yes, I do realize that others have a higher success rate than me. I still think this is a super flawed process.

But where you see failure, you shouldn’t call it out and mock it unless you have a different, helpful, and successful approach (this is a good, general life rule too). Thankfully, I do. Let’s go back to the previous illustration…

With that, this is the part where I leave you on a cliffhanger and tell you to buy a copy.  I will tell you, that I believe enterprising and creative folk can build relationships pretty quickly by using the computer in their pocket and taking the work off of the other person…

That being said, feel free to tweet me and tell me how business cards have gotten you a job, or how I’m saying what you’ve always thought on the inside.

Most importantly, do what works best for you!  Take care, have a great day!

Copyright 2016-2017, Adam T. Croft, all rights reserved.