During the heyday of calling cards, using a business card for a social purpose was considered bad manners. Today, while business cards are great for making business contacts, they still aren’t really suited for social situations. They probably have your work number and work email, and not much else on them. Think of all the times you meet someone you’d like to see again. Handing them a business card is too stiff and formal. Ditto for simply having them put your digits into their phone.
Using a social calling card fills the gap between the formality of “Here’s my business card, let’s do lunch next week.” and “I found this pen on the floor of the bar, write your number on my arm.” But what form does the modern calling card take, what are some practical uses for something that at first glance appears to be an antiquated idea? Read on for more information about how keeping a calling card or two in your pocket can benefit you.
Here are several examples where using a business card to exchange information wouldn’t be the most effective method, but writing down your information by hand for each contact would range from counter productive to silly:
- Class reunions. You’re going to run into a ton of people with which you want to exchange information. Instead of constantly busting out the pen and paper, just hand them your card.
- Networking between jobs. You’re not currently employed, so you don’t have a business card. Or if you do, it has your old employer’s info on it. While you’re looking for work, have a calling card ready to present to potential contacts and leads.
- Parties. If you’re planning an informal party or get together, write down your address and the time of the party on the back. When you run into people you’d like to see there, give them one of your cards and invite them over. Sometimes calling cards also come with small envelopes, sized to fit your card. You can therefore always use your calling cards as traditional invitations sent through the mail. Also, if your calling card comes with an envelope, you can use them as gift cards.
- The classroom. It’s often hard to make the leap from being “in-class” friends to “outside of class” friends. Give someone you enjoy chatting with in class your calling card. They’ll probably start posting on your Facebook page and your friendship will take off from there. Or use the card to set up a study group.
What do calling cards look like? The beauty of the modern calling card is that it’s anything you want it to be. With a formal business card if you decide you want to standout and make your business cards 4×6 instead of the standard 3.5×2 inches, you’ll find quickly that people have no place to put your unwieldy business card and lose or discard them. A calling card on the other hand is a quirky thing to begin with and suffers little for being strangely coloured or adorned with interesting information. What kind of information goes on a calling card? Some things you might want to share in a social situation:
- Blog or website address
- Twitter username
- Facebook or Myspace name (if it’s different than the one on the card)
- Email address
- Instant message name
Where to have them made? While The Art Of Manliness has several great sources for calling cards, they fail to mention my favourite source which I’ll give a nod here. MOO, a printing outfit based out of the United Kingdom, has mini business cards which if weren’t interesting enough on their own can be customised with multiple images. Order a pack of 100 cards and you can use 100 unique images. When I was looking for something to serve as a calling card/informal business card earlier this year I opted to use my portfolio from my photography business as a basis for hundreds of unique calling cards. Distinct photo on the front, basic information on the back. That said a calling card could go a much simpler route and simply be your name on the front and an email address or a link to a social networking profile.