IMMUNE TO THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION
Today, online printing has added immediacy and customisation to business card production and this appears to have aided their survival.
US-based Moo is one company to successfully capture the mass customisation trend and has helped regenerate the humble business card.
In 2012, its CEO told Bloomberg business cards are “a large, profitable sector" for them. Almost half of Moo's business is in the US and the business of using the internet to print out real, actual business stationery, including cards, is worth around $US3 billion.
CRAVING THE PERSONAL TOUCH
According to business etiquette expert Anna Musson, connecting with a real human is perhaps even more important in the internet age.
“Nothing will replace personal contact and the more we rely on the internet, the more we need the personal touch," she says.
For those doing business in Asia especially, the culture of cards is very much here to stay.
Martine Letts, National CEO of the Australia-China Business Council, doesn't think cards will go away any time soon.
Spending a lot of time in China particularly, she finds “the exchange of cards is an important ritual of introduction, to establish contact and rapport".
For Musson, the basics of a good card are name, phone number and postal address. It's important the card design is somehow relative to the industry – plastic cards for a plastics company for instance.
All this seems straightforward. But why might a physical address be more important than say an email address? Or website?
Musson suggests your work location is a good icebreaker, as it allows the card recipient to comment on your home town, especially if they've been there, and thus get a conversation flowing. It also helps to show you are not a fly-by-night and have a real place of work that can be checked if need be.
It's just as important, she says, to know what to do with a card once given one. Men should place it in an upper pocket, say in a breast pocket, and never in their wallet or a back pocket. Women should have a card-holder handy for cards.
While there's a place for electronic networking and e-cards, the role of the physical business card seems set to stay. In fact, it would appear many of us crave the human touch, the tangible.
The humble old business card embodies this. Robots and e-networking devices can do a lot. But they rarely facilitate eye contact and engage in a chat about the weather.
James Rose is a freelance journalist with newsmodo.