Customs are transient by nature. So, it should come as no surprise then that within the new digital age there are alternative technologies being created that can, and are, replacing current practices. A business card is not immune from this.
Business cards have been around since the 17th Century and are a simple, effective way of exchanging contact information in a physical format. They are a paper handshake, an expression of a brand or ethos as a first and, hopefully, lasting impression. Whether you are at a conference, a workshop, a potential client meeting, or even a spontaneous conversation; the business card has, time and time again, been there to help create relationships between people.
In some countries such as Japan or China, the business card is ritualised as an almost mandatory accessory to greeting someone within the business sector.
Although it still holds importance for many people and many cultures, some people now prefer other means of information exchanging, such as requesting an email, or submitting information directly into their smartphone or tablet. These methods are becoming commonplace at networking events and the transition from physical to digital seems to be creeping in.
Unsurprisingly, there are now also a number of Apps on the market that cater for this. Take CardMunch for example. Powered by LinkedIn, you can take a photo of a business card and convert the information to an address book contact on your iPhone. With CardMunch you can also tweak the settings to either automatically add contacts or edit them first. Another example is Cardcloud, an app that allows you to share your digital business card from phone to phone or via email. Recipients don’t even require the Cardcloud app and once a card is received the app also stores the time and your location, so you will always remember where and when you met someone!
So, it would seem prudent, that in order both to be seen as professional and not to get caught out on any level of information exchange, you now require both a digital facility and a physical business card at the same time!
There are many more alternative Apps to the ones mentioned above, but the point to be made here is that although seemingly impersonal, so long as you have a smart phone at hand there are solutions that allow for information exchange and storage whether your new connection has either a physical or digital business card.
Of course, the transition of one custom to another takes time, especially when that custom has deep, aged roots. The beauty of the business card is in its simplicity; it has a personal touch of professionalism that quite often defines at first glance what kind of business you are dealing with. It’s real; it holds a place in your drawer, wallet, your briefcase, or on a desk. The key thing however is that it has been used, it has served its purpose and created an impression. It has an element of importance associated with it that a digital business card held in the pocket of cyberspace just doesn’t have.
So, while the physical business card may eventually become obsolete, it will likely be a slow demise.