5 Pet Peeves about Business Cards
NAFE member Linda Hollander, the Wealthy Bag Lady, is a 20-year entrepreneur and author of the best-seller, Bags to Riches: 7 Success Secrets for Women in Business. She teaches entrepreneurial women about small business success and is the founder of the Women’s Small Business Expo. Here are her suggestions for creating a professional and effective business card.
Business cards are your chance to make a brilliant first impression that will either lead to profits or frustration. When a person views your business card, you want them to know immediately about what you do, if you can help them, and how they can contact you. Sounds simple, right? Here are some of the most common mistakes:
1. CROSS-OUTS WRITTEN OVER IN PEN. The most egregious mistake! If your phone number or email has changed, please print new business cards. Don’t use a pen to cross out and write the current information.
2. CONTACT INFORMATION IS MISSING. A card with no physical address brands you as a teeny tiny micro-business. If you’re a home-based business, I don’t recommend giving the address of your house – but there are alternatives. Private mailbox rental locations are great because they also accept packages. You can get a post office box, or use a friend’s office as a physical address. When I read your business card, I also want your phone number, fax, web site and email address. Without your email, you look like a dinosaur. If you have a web site, don’t just list it – give people a reason to go there (free report, articles, tips, etc.)
3. MORE THAN 3 PHONE NUMBERS. Too Much Information. Choose the best phone numbers to reach you. I don’t list my cell; I forward my calls to my cell phone if I’m out of the office. If you’ve read my book, Bags to Riches, you know that I’m not a fan of the combination phone/fax. If you’re serious about your business, invest in a dedicated fax line.
4. FONTS THAT ARE HARD TO READ. Fancy fonts for your logo are great, but please choose a standard font for the contact information on your business card. Arial and Times Roman are clean and convey credibility. Another common mistake is colored type too light to read. I’ve seen yellow type on a white background too many times to count. One more point: the difference between a professional designer and a hack is the use of negative space. A beginner crams too much information on the card, creating clutter.
5. NICKNAMES. The name on the top of the card says Elizabeth “Betty” Jones. I have no idea what name to use. Am I crossing the line if I use your nickname? Is Betty only for your close friends? Which name do you prefer? Please pick one name and use it on your business card.
ALWAYS carry your business cards. Your business cards won’t work unless you do. (If you meet people who don’t have their business cards, ask them to write their contact information on the back of yours.) Now, go out there and network!