12 Business Card Blunders to Avoid in Networking

12 Business Card Blunders to Avoid in Networking

The lowly business card: we don’t give it a second thought before we get the thing printed up, and we just do what everyone else does. Many people, new in business, get the business card printed before they’re really ready to, which causes many of the mistakes I list below. In both cases, experienced or new, we’re missing huge opportunities to let your business card take some of the work off your shoulders. We may take it for granted, but I feel that your business card is one of your most important pieces of marketing collateral, and the most under-utilized.

Here are my suggestions for how to get your business card working as hard as you do. If you want to play along, pull out your business card, and see if your card is guilty of any of these first four no-no’s.

  1. Missing email address. Believe it or not, many of the cards I receive via networking meetings are missing email addresses. This is most common with new business owners and individuals in the personal care business, but still, there’s no excuse.
  2. An email address that ends with aol.com, gmail.com, yahoo.com, or your ISP’s domain name. Everyone in business for themselves needs to be using their own domain email (such as @sandismith.com). This is free advertising of your web site, so why are you advertising Yahoo!, Comcast, or AOL instead of yourself? Advertising a free email account as your business email is just plain unprofessional.
  3. Glossy cards you can’t write on. Okay, this is my pet peeve. Yes, you can get these cards printed for free on the Internet. That sends a loud message that you don’t even have the money for business cards and that you do everything on the cheap. That’s not what I want people to think about my business.
  4. A web site address printed on the card that isn’t up yet. When I get a business card from you, I’m likely to visit your web site to find out more. If it doesn’t come up, it tells me one of two things: you either didn’t pay your hosting company or webmaster, or you haven’t gotten to that project yet. Both are bad messages to send.

Okay, how are you doing? These are very basic, so if you’ve been in business for a few years, you’re probably doing well. So now let’s ask whether your business card looks like it’s from a small operation or a Fortune 500 company. How about these small company no-no’s?

  1. Missing job title. Every business card should list your job title, especially if you are President or CEO.
  2. Photo of you. This is tell-tale small business. I disagree with some people who feel that it helps during networking; you can go to the web site and see their picture there. A picture takes up valuable card real estate and screams “ego.” It’s just not the most effective thing to have on your card.
  3. No logo. Every business needs a logo for branding its image.
  4. Clip art. Your logo should be the only art on your card.
  5. Weird shape. I don’t feel the way to stand out is through odd colors or shape of your business card.

Now, let’s get to what really matters: the marketing. Here are some things to consider that very few others are doing that will help your results with prospects:

  1. One phone number. Prospects can get confused as to what number to call. List only one, or make it clear when to call what number. Don’t keep us guessing.
  2. The business you’re in. If you said nothing and handed your business card over to a stranger and asked them what business you’re in, could they figure it out? If not, neither can your prospect. Make sure your tag line or business name clearly describes the business you’re in and if it doesn’t, you’ll need to add something on your card that does.
  3. What to do next. Get prospects into your funnel by telling them what to do next right on your business card. Can they get a free consultation? A free white paper? Make it clear on the card how they can sign up for the next step to get to know you better.

How’d you do? I hope you passed, and if not, I see a trip to your printer in your near future.

1 Comment
  1. Great list Sandi. However, I disagree with you about titles on business cards. As an owner and a sole practitioner, I hold many jobs within my business. When I talk to people I don’t want them to know that I am the owner. Such as when I am selling, I often want the option to tell them I have to check with someone when they ask for something I am not ready to give. However, on my email signature does speak to my credentials and also invites people to my website and my LinkedIn profile. And by the way, my card did have everything else you suggested.

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