Is LinkedIn Replacing Business Cards?


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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of LinkedIn. You probably have a profile. And you (hopefully) are using it regularly and effectively.

But let’s get right to the point of this blog.

Is LinkedIn replacing business cards?

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Is LinkedIn Replacing Business Cards?

  1. 1. Is LinkedIn Replacing Business Cards? Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of LinkedIn. You probably have a profile. And you (hopefully) are using it regularly and effectively. But let’s get right to the point of this blog. Is LinkedIn replacing business cards? The answer takes a little thought. Let’s take a little peek into the world of LinkedIn for a moment: • • • More than 238,000,000 people across the globe are registered on LinkedIn LinkedIn averages 396,648,032 visits (as of July 2013). That number has increased by 40 million every month since September 2011 Tens of millions of LinkedIn Groups exist for discussion on a range of niche topics These numbers may not surprise you, but they’re pretty impressive nonetheless. Chances are that clients, prospects, colleagues—just about everyone you’ve met—is on LinkedIn. Networking and the business card. Look in your purse/wallet/work bag right now—can you find a business card? Turn it over, look at all the details. Looks nice, right? But what exactly is it for? Why do we have business cards, anyway? They offer contact information. Exciting, isn’t it? Often the one piece of collateral you’re leaving with a client or prospect—something you can be assured they are carrying out of the meeting with them—and you’re just putting your contact information on it. Right now there isn’t scientific data to back this up, but I’ll tell you my own personal process of handling business cards (one that I’ve verified is pretty accurate with several other professionals): 1. Exchange business cards. 2. Throw in bag. 3. When I get home, look the person up on LinkedIn and send an invite to connect. 4. Possibly, scan the business card into my iPhone contacts. 5. Throw out the business card. It’s a vicious cycle, right? Chances are you don’t even go through those steps, you might just toss business cards in a pile and forget about them, or toss them in the
  2. 2. trash (inadvertently or not). The thing is, we have a lot of paper nowadays, and for many of us, we like less of it. And we meet or talk to so many people that we might not have the time or resources to keep tabs on a stack of business cards. Just as, for many, iPads have replaced notebooks for note taking, it seems that LinkedIn is poised to replace business cards. But wait, there’s more. Here’s the thing: How many of us are only on LinkedIn? Does your company (or you personally) have a website? Maybe you’re active on Twitter or other social networks? There’s more to you than LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great way to build your online personal brand. But, by limiting yourself to LinkedIn, your prospects, clients and colleagues could be missing out on a wealth of data. I know I have a personal website, Twitter profile, page, LinkedIn profile…there’s a bit out there! But if someone only visits my LinkedIn page, they’d be missing out on more depth of information, opportunities for contact and information I’d just plain like them to see (Psst. You can also link those pages directly to your LinkedIn profile, but they can be a bit hard to find, unless you’re looking for them). Chances are, your employers would like prospects, clients and colleagues to see more about you too—like information about their business! Business cards should be more than contact information! Revolutionize your business cards. Society’s disdain for paper aside, there is tremendous opportunity to showcase your entire online presence, as well as your company’s, through business cards. Here’s how: • • • Make business cards a portal. Create business cards that are more than a way to save contact information. Everyone does that, and it’s why so many of them end up in the trash. Instead, make your business card a “real world” hub to your “online” persona. Companies should include social profile links on their employees’ business cards, plus personal LinkedIn links as well. Include great design. Visually appealing business cards are more likely to get you remembered and less likely to find their way to the trash bin. Great design is a key element to memorable business cards that grab attention. And if you’re on a tight budget, there are options out there. Several of us here at ClearEdge recently ordered Facebook business cards from Moo. They were free. Seriously. Just $6 for shipping. And they look awesome. Check them out for a great example of good design and personal branding, instead of contact information. Keep your online presence fresh. Your fancy, new (and effective) business cards will be driving traffic to your social media profiles and website. That means that your company (and your employees) should be sure that everything looks good. Share relevant industry content. Comment on other people’s content. Stay active on social media. Creating awesome new business cards is
  3. 3. pointless if they drive people to dull, barren social profiles. Get your online branding (like your website and social media) in gear. How has your use of business cards evolved (or not) since social media became more prevalent?