Monday, July 18, 2005

What Goes on Your Card?

Occasionally one of my friends will eagerly reach for a new business card. They will include the comment, “I have a collection of your cards.” It’s a scary thought. For over twenty years, I’ve been using business cards and exchanging them at conventions and conferences plus one on one meetings with people.

Unlike some people, I’ve moved around a bit through different positions and different occupations and different companies.  A business card is a way to update the recipient on where I currently live and how to reach me (depending on the information on the card).

Last week in Denver, I had a number of people say to me, “Now you are still in Colorado Springs?” No, I live in Arizona. Despite literally thousands of emails and other bits of communications, an individual will remember you where you were last living when you connected with them. The business card exchange helps affirm the new location and your current information. In a busy convention, it’s difficult to keep track of all the information you gather and business cards are an important part of this exchange.

Some people use the front and the back of their business card.  I’m not an advocate of these types of cards for several reasons. First is the added expense but many times your business card is used as a reminder for the recipient to take additional action at a later time.  Maybe you are talking about a book to send or guidelines for a publication or _______. It’s common to use the blank back of your business card to write this request for later follow-up. It’s hard to write on a surface that is crammed with type (as happened a couple of times last week).

OK so what information does your business card contain?  There is no right or wrong answer but it should include your name, mailing address, phone number, email address and your website (if you have a website).  Some business cards promote a new book. For example, last week I gave people my Howard Publishing business card but also a card which included some information about Book Proposals That Sell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success.  You may not have a book to include—and if that is the case, don’t worry about it.

I’ve seen writers agonize about which title to include on their business card. Some love the word “writer.” Others prefer “author.” Yet others say “novelist and speaker.” From my perspective, it is not important which occupation you use (or don’t use). If it’s not on the card, it’s not a problem. It’s a matter of personal choice.

Some people include a lot of valuable information on their business card such as their home phone or their cell phone number. Again, it’s a matter of personal choice what you include or don’t include. Last week one author moved so much because of her military husband that the only personal contact information included on her business card was a website address.  The recipient could go to the website address and have the means of contacting this author.

The important aspect is to have business cards. Carry them with you because you never know when you will need to exchange them. I’ve seen countless frustrated people (including some editors) who rush off for a conference without their business cards.  Take the advance planning time to create an attractive yet functional business card. It will pay off in the long run.

5 Comment:

At 9:11 AM, Blogger C.J. Darlington Left a note...

Thanks for devoting a post to this topic. It definitely clarifies things for me. Up til now I haven't had much use for business cards, but now that I'm marketing myself and my writing more, I'll need to order some for sure.

At 10:49 AM, Blogger Sara Horn Left a note...

Thanks for your post. Your timing is wonderful! I'm leaving my full-time job as a writer in a corporate setting to branch out writing full time on my own and will be looking at business cards in the next couple of weeks. You've given me some good thoughts to keep in mind.

At 11:44 AM, Blogger Brandy Brow Left a note...

Terry, I design and print business cards on my ink jet printer, but I'm always concerned about how others look upon them in comparison to ordered cards. Do you find conference contacts accept home-printed cards on equal ground with professional cards so long as they have a clean edge, minimal colors if any, and are not cluttered?

At 12:09 PM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...


These cards come in a wide variety. The key for me is the information and a clear print quality. I've personally never used cards that I've printed myself but when I receive them I don't look at them any differently.

At 1:51 PM, Blogger Brandy Brow Left a note...

Thanks Terry. That's helpful.


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