The importance of business cards

After my post about the second business card a few weeks ago I got some reactions from people saying they work for a large organisation, but don’t have business cards. So I thought it might be good to share a part out of my networking book “Let’s Connect!” (for a free light version of the book, visit www.letsconnect.be)

I still can’t believe that many organisations only have business cards for their “external profiles” like sales people, managing directors, project leaders or marketing managers.

What managers who cut costs by saving on business cards apparently don’t understand is that the power of networking works for every co-worker in their department or organisation. Even more important is the fact that if you don’t have a business card, you have an extra obstacle to overcome.

For many people this does not only entail a practical disadvantage, but also a psychological one. The thought “I’m not important enough to have a business card” can prohibit people from establishing contact with others. Most often the people who don’t get business cards are back-office employees. And they tend to be more introvert than others, which gives them the feeling of having a disadvantage to more extravert people (which is in fact not the case). The result is that when they meet other people in a meeting, on a reception or another networking event, inside or outside the organisation, they don’t even tend to network.

What beautiful opportunities are missed in this way! And besides, how vain or disrespectful to label people as “less important”. You never know who they know! Maybe their neighbour is the customer your sales representatives have been after for months. Or they might have a brother that would be the perfect software programmer for your next big project. Or their son plays in the same soccer team as the president of a potential business partner.

Also within the organisation this could be important: they might be very well connected with people from other departments or local offices. Many Social (or Organisational) Network Analyses have disclosed that the organisational chart is almost NEVER the way people work together, exchange information or influence each other. A very good book in this field is “The hidden power of social organisations” by Rob Cross and Andrew Parker. It is very practical, with many case studies and examples from real business life.

Giving your co-workers business cards encourages them to represent your organisation to the outside world. Once I got the answer: “That’s exactly the reason why we don’t give business cards to our cleaning staff. We don’t want people to identify them with our company. They are not loyal and sometimes speak ill of our organisation.”

When I heard this, I seriously wondered about how important people were in this organisation. Business is still done between people, not between machines. Many large contracts are signed, not because the offer was the best, but because of the human aspect of the relationship between customer and supplier. When I hear someone say they don’t believe in their own people, then I seriously doubt ever becoming a customer of this company. How will they treat me? A good beginning for this man could just be to give business cards to his cleaning staff. They might feel more respected and start behaving differently, more positively.

Have a great networking day !

Jan

One Response to The importance of business cards

  1. Veerle says:

    “I still can’t believe that many organisations only have business cards for their “external profiles” like sales people, managing directors, project leaders or marketing managers.”

    In the company I work for, this is also the case. Only people who supposedly come into contact with clients have a business card. Personally I don’t have a business card, but I have already been in touch(for business purposes) with clients and people from other companies in and outside of my company’s offices.
    In those instances, I have received those people’s business cards but embarrassingly I have never been able to present mine. When I say embarrassingly I mean I was embarrassed for my company, not for me personally. If I were to receive business cards from my company now, I wouldn’t accept them anymore.

    I think some companies use business cards to deliberately create this distinction between the apparently more important and the less important employees.
    Giving everybody business cards would be too much of an equalizer.
    Reality could however hit them in the face if those less important people were to leave the company.

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