Has Twitter replaced your business card?

Originally posted at Melbourne.co.uk

When we tweaked our visual identity a couple of months ago, whole stacks of little bits of paper scattered around the office suddenly became obsolete. Now that we’ve moved offices, the information on them could be misleading too.

1895 business card

I’m referring of course to our business cards: little rectangles of information that have been existed probably since Gutenberg was trying to sell his presses in the 14th century. I suspect the format has changed little too; this 1895 example bears a striking resemblance to some designs I’ve seen just recently.

But, just what is the purpose of a business card?
I suppose that during organised “networking” events they’re a part of the theatre practised during formal introductions. A well-designed business card should also act as an aide-memoir.

And given the fact that we’re a digital business, I’ve been wondering just how useful business cards really are? For me, they’re often bland, forgettable and filed away in a part of my drawer I rarely check. It doesn’t help that cards which try to “stand out of the crowd” often end up being examples of awkward “corporate quirk” or suffer from the deployment of gimmicks like QR codes.

At many of the events that I personally attend, a business card is rarely useful. Last week, I stuck my head into Northern Digitals which, to be honest, I go along to as a social event. A lot of my friends work in digital or creative industries and enjoy a pint or two. And a lot of our clients do as well. But because it’s such a social place, I always get chatting with someone new that’s turned up and want to keep in touch with them after the event.

But for me, rather than swapping a piece of paper, the best way to keep in touch is by exchanging Twitter usernames. I almost always follow new people that I’ve met in real life and it’s a far more interesting and useful way to keep in touch with someone you might end up doing business with. It also means you can dispense with the empty pleasantries associated with those staid post-networking emails and work with someone as a partner almost immediately.

This is just my opinion; I know many feel business cards still have a place in the right situation. But given the amount spent on printing cards and the impact that has on the environment, I’m unconvinced that they offer better value for me personally than simply swapping Twitter accounts with someone I meet over a pint. Others seem to agree. But, if we get the design of our new ones right, you might see me try them out…

What do you think? Do you have any examples of killer business cards or have you found you’ve done more business through your Twitter account? Drop a comment below.