If you hang around the high-tech crowd long enough, it's easy to get a skewed view of the networking world.
Case in point is Susy Jackson, who attended the recent South by Southwest conference in Austin, Tex., which attracts the leading thinkers, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts within the technology community.
After schmoozing in the heart of Texas, Ms. Jackson wrote an article on the Business Insider Web site declaring the business card to be dead.
This proclamation was based on puzzled looks she received from conference participants after offering them her business card, as well as the many requests she received for non-business card contact information, such as a Twitter username or e-mail address.
I can appreciate that declaring the business card is going the way of the dinosaur is attention-grabbing but my take is her thesis is that it's inaccurate.
For one, basing the future of the business cards on the activity of some geeks does not provide a true representation of the general public. We're talking about people who exchange contact information by sending it via a wireless connection to their smart phones or iPads - something described as "bumping.".These are people who also believe Twitter will replace e-mail.
For the rest of us, the business card, which goes back to 15th-century China, appears to be very much alive and well.
Swapping business cards may not be as sexy as exchanging information via a smart phone. But they still have a place in the business landscape.
Perhaps the biggest reason is that they are tangible and real, unlike digital entities that live within the online ether.
When you give someone a business card, it is a personal and physical act that I believe makes a different kind of impression than asking for someone's Twitter username or e-mail address.
In today's fast-paced, multitasking world, business cards are enduring and create a different kind of connection. It is the reason why they are a $1.2-billion industry (U.S.) in the United States - making them a $120-million industry in Canada, based on our population being one-tenth the size.
In my consulting business, business cards are a key component of how I network and build leads.
At $10 for 500 cards, they are an investment that provide a significant return because they are a way to resonate with people I have just met. At the same time, giving someone a business card encourages him or her to give you one back, which makes it easy to get contact details.
Business cards may be old-school and less accepted by the digitally engaged but, like books, they appear to be holding up to the emergence of new technology.
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.
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