Thanks to Apple, I now carry more computer in my pocket than all of NASA had to work with when they sent meat puppets to the moon in 1969. I take photos and video anytime, anywhere. I blog, I tweet and I have my own contacts database in ‘the cloud’.
So why, when I am attending a 21st century business networking function, would I want to exchange slices of printed, dead tree-skin just to introduce myself?
Is the business card dead?
The geek-inventors of the world have certainly tried to make it so. On my iPhone is an app called ‘Bump’ that lets me butt phones with other bump-enabled cybernauts to automatically exchange information. Attendees at technology trade shows gleefully scan each others’ coded badges, presumably so they can send them a bag full of pdf brochures. I can even buy clothing emblazoned with a QR code, allowing anyone with a smartphone scanner app to instantly price-check me like a 160lb bar-coded ham.
But I don’t see the technology really catching on yet. It’s hard to scan anything in the dimly-lit beer-soaked after-hours events where I prefer to network. I’m not sure I would look too good in QR checker patterned sport coat. And I can’t remember the last time I bumped someone (other than my wife).
In fact, just the other day I was at a PowerPlant 10 Green Leaders event at the Tiki Lounge in Vancouver’s retro-glam Waldorf Hotel, swapping business cards like Fred Flintstone at a Water Buffalo convention. One designer showed off a card she thought was particularly sexy, even though it wasn’t hers. We mused over whether flower-seed-infused super-sustainable paper business cards would grow if planted (see below for the answer). I handed out my usual assortment of stamped recycled rubbish from my blue-bin, which most always seems to start a conversation. And the next day, I dutifully went through my pocket full of paper, entering names and emails and following up on the many interesting conversations I had between beers.
Frankly, I don’t know if I would have taken that extra step to reach out and touch someone if, upon meeting them, their email address had magically morphed itself into my database.
So I believe the death of the business card has been greatly exaggerated. In fact, there is more opportunity than ever to create an introduction piece that goes beyond mere digital efficiency. It will never end up in a Rolodex, but if a card starts a conversation, encourages someone to remember your brand, and respectfully biodegrades afterwards, its future is secure.