Business Cards: What to Do With Them, And When

I’m a professional in my mid-20s, and I have 3 different business cards. One is my personal card. It has my website (, cell number, and email address. Another is for my main job at Boston Appliance, which has a killer logo and color scheme. The last one is for my candle company, which has been in its nascent stages for a while now. (I’m still hopeful it’ll work out!)

Most of my business cards are still sitting in their boxes though. I haven’t always been sure what to do with them – and when to do it. Frankly, I’ve gotten worried that if I’m not mindful about it, they’ll collect dust for all the ages.

After a brainstorming session with Josh, I’ve decided to try this strategy:

Just kidding. Here are the ones I really to try:

Give them to all of your business contacts. You can casually mention, “Hey – have we exchanged business cards yet?” It’s a great way to leave your information with someone who has other contacts in your industry. Who knows – you may get a referral out of it! And by taking their card, you’re offering the same wonderful possibility.

Give them to friends and family. Don’t load them down with 50 cards each, but (especially if you got a new job, or designed your own personal card) you are allowed to be excited about your business cards and give one to each of your friends without being obnoxious. Don’t rule out your friends of friends either, but only if the right opportunity/moment arises.

Give them to randos. You know, that guy you had a great conversation with on your plane ride to Anywheresville? Don’t be shy! Give him your card, say, “It’d be great to stay in touch” and send him on his way with wishes for happy travels! You never know who you’ll meet, or who might end up becoming a great friend or ally down the road.

Give them out at conventions, training sessions, and any other gatherings. I’m afraid I’m usually horrible at this, but I plan to get better. It may require some social savvy to slip a business card over to someone you’ve just met at a convention (depending on the situation), but this strategy can be one of the most powerful and impactful for your career. Train yourself to recognize the situations in which you’re given an opportunity to hand over your card! The best strategy to put yourself into a position in which you can give your business card away, is not only to GO to conventions, training sessions, & other gatherings – but also to make strong connections with people who are connectors. The purely awesome human beings who glean personal enjoyment from facilitating helpful contacts between their friends.

But once you’re in a situation where you have the opportunity to give out your business card, what do you?! These two situations cover most scenarios:

  1. When someone asks you about where you work or what you do: dig out your business card, give it to the person, and say, “I work at XYZ Company.” Then give a brief explanation of what your company does.
  2. When you ask someone about their job, or when they volunteer information about their job: find the right moment to say, “Do you have a business card?” Thank them, admire it for a second, then offer your own. You can say something like, “Here’s mine, in case you ever need [financial advice / a kitchen appliance / marketing tools / etc.].”

I hope this was helpful for you!

The key to all of this (for me anyway) is to gather my courage. Make like Nike, and just do it! I know there is a lot of untapped potential in having and giving business cards – and it will be great to get into the habit of exchanging them 🙂





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