The business card is alive and kicking, despite the fact technology is making the use of small pieces of paper appear somewhat antiquated.
I know people who sometimes apologize for using them, but the business card remains a corporate fixture. It's similar to why books (the paper variety) are still popular: both are tangible, durable and well entrenched - at least for now.
While the business card may not disappear any time soon, there is definitely more competition and options that could, at least, make it less common.
Among the Internet savvy, LinkedIn has become increasingly popular as a way to have a professional presence online. There are more than 80 million LinkedIn users around the world, including two million in Canada.
LinkedIn is like an online resume that makes it easy to publicly display information about your corporate profile and experience. For many people, particularly those in sales and recruiting, LinkedIn can be an effective way to build a network and make connections.
Another useful feature is its ability to quickly download the information of someone you have added to your network. Once downloaded, it can be imported into your contact list or address book.
A growing number of people are replacing or supplementing business cards with personal websites. They don't have to sport a lot of bells and whistles, but a good looking website that provides information about who you are and what you do can be an effective tool.
For people really into technology, mobile devices are emerging as the new business card. One of the most popular (or perhaps the most cool) is an iPhone application called Bump. Instead of exchanging business cards, iPhone users fire up Bump, and then Bump each other's information to their address books.
This isn't a new technology - those of us who had Palm Pilots may recall it was possible to exchange information using a Bluetooth connection. But the iPhone's popularity and cool factor could make Bump or Bump-like applications a viable alternative to the business card.
Even thought I'm a digital creature and, in theory, I really like the idea of Bump, I'm going to hold on to my business cards. Perhaps it is nostalgia or the fact you can stuff them in a shirt pocket or your wallet, but business cards still have value because the transaction involves giving something to someone you have met.
In that sense, it is a way to formalize a new relationship - something that may be a little more formal than Bump-ing them.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Mark Evans is a principal with ME Consulting , a content and social media strategic and tactical consultancy that creates and delivers 'stories' for companies looking to capture the attention of customers, bloggers, the media, business partners, employees and investors. Mark has worked with three start-ups - Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye - so he understands how they operate and what they need to do to be successful. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshUniversity and meshmarketing conferences.