Last night, I began the process of making new business cards. (I would have finished the process, but I ran out of printer ink at 10:30 pm. Naturally.)
It pains me to spend the time and resources making new cards, even though my job description has changed significantly over the last few months. I still have well over a hundred perfectly good business cards (except for the outdated job description and really old picture). I have plenty left because I almost never hand them out.
It’s not that I don’t meet new people. I do, often.
But I also use technology to collect, store, and organize contact information. If you have an iPhone, I’ll use the Bump It app to swap details with you. If you’re on twitter, I’ll quickly start following you right from my phone. I rely on Google and Apple to work seamlessly together to keep my contacts organized.
I do not refer to a rolodex full of business cards.
In fact, I don’t even have a rolodex. I also don’t have other people’s business cards anymore because I recently cleaned my desk and the first thing that goes when I clean my desk is the pile of unsorted business cards that have been collected since the last desk cleaning.
I’ve seen people flip through rolodexes and business cards in old 80s movies. I get that there was, at one point, a good reason for exchanging tiny pieces of paper with people you may or may not ever talk to again. But it seems to me that the business card has become obsolete.
In a digital world, have business cards become just one more piece of clutter we inevitably throw away later? Are we just going through the motions of an outdated networking ritual when we make these exchanges at conferences and after meetings?
When was the last time a business card - yours or someone else’s - actually served a useful purpose for you?