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The Business Card: Discussing Their Purpose and Relevancy in the Age of Technology and Social Media

Updated on December 5, 2017

It’s 2017, and with minimal effort, you can find a significant other, purchase and have delivered groceries, and fully perform a day’s work without ever leaving the comfort of your home. In an age where social media and technology are king, many practices of the past have lost their significance and fallen by the wayside. The importance of the business card is no different. Or is it? I look to explore the purpose and relevancy of the business card in the age of social media, deciding whether it’s a practice here to stay, or one to throw away.
So, what is a Business Card?
Perform a quick Google search and you’ll discover that a business card is a small card printed with one's name, professional occupation, company position, business address, and other relevant contact information. They’ve been around for ages, originating back to 17th century England, where businesses would use them for advertising, as well as maps, since street numbering systems didn’t exist at the time (Ward).
Why are Business Cards Necessary?
In Japanese culture, business cards are treated as an extension of the person and are always to be treated with honor and respect (the balance). It’s pertinent to make a continuing impression, even after you’re no longer physically present, and use of business cards make this possible. It’s this elements that constitutes the continued need for business cards and why they surpass social media in certain situations. Although social media provides various ways to locate and keep up with who is important, there’s just something about the physical exchange of a business card that solidifies a connection. It’s this genuine connection we all seek that still finds 88% of American’s finding their significant others offline despite the increased popularity of online dating (Smith and Anderson 2016).
I recently received a business card advertising a free 6-month subscription to a music service from a concert, and although I’ve utilized the purpose of the card, I have yet to discard of it. I simple love the look and feel of the card, and admire the great care that was taken in its design. It’s this appreciation that allows this card to linger on, now serving as a memento of the occasion. Had this advertisement reached me via text or an email, the lasting effect good design provides wouldn’t be present, and I would no longer be shouting its praises. This effect is what we all strive to have in our day to day interactions, so wouldn’t it be beneficial to have this effect with a potential customer or employer?
Social media has its benefits, the ability to streamline and compile contacts to a click of a button being a huge upside, but fails to consistently create connections we can hold on to. We only have once chance at a first impression, and in business a business card is the tool that can successfully carry that impression, long after you’ve departed.
The business card is either the first or last thing you give to people when meeting them, and as a result is the item that they will remember you by (Schussler & Karlins 2011).

Schussler, Steven, and Marvin Karlins. Its a jungle in there: inspiring lessons, hard-Won insights, and other acts of entrepreneurial daring. Union Square, 2011. (p.115 – 117)
Smith, Aaron, and Monica Anderson. “5 facts about online dating.” Pew Research Center, 29 Feb. 2016, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/02/29/5-facts-about-online-dating/.
Ward, Susan. “Why Business Cards Are as Popular as Ever.” The Balance, www.thebalance.com/business-cards-2947923

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