The Conference Season has just opened in Israel, with lots of great events filling up our calenders for May and June. Even a few that an introvert like me would consider leaving the security of my home office to attend.
For example, the Temech Conference for Women in Business, which I’m organizing. Probably I should show up to that one :).
But all these opportunities to meet people in person has raised a question that I’ve been avoiding for the last 2 years:
Should I get some business cards?
You know that awkward moment where you meet someone at a professional event, and they hand over their card with a confident flick of the wrist. Then you mumble your excuse why you don’t have a business card to exchange.
Perhaps you even rationalize that you don’t need one ‘cos you’re just too savvy to hand out pieces of dead tree.
I’ve been doing that line for the past couple of years.
While I’m certainly a lover of rainforests, that is not real reason I’ve been too wary to make business cards.
The real reason is because there was a period of 5 years where I had six sets of business cards printed. Each time a batch of 500. Each time I used less than 10% of them before they became obsolete, if not misleading, if not downright embarrassing.
And then they started piling up in the closet in the guest room.
The Problem with Business Cards
I know there are some people who stay in the same role and want to convey the same message for 5 consecutive years, or more. There are actually quite a lot of people like that in the world.
Business cards work great for them. Those types can even save money by ordering 1,000 business cards at a time.
If that’s you, you deserve a cape for this staying-power super-power you have.
And then there are people like me, natural-born entrepreneurs with a hint of ADD, who are constantly getting involved with new projects, new ventures, new directions.
People who are passionately involved in a lot of things – not just one job title that they can print on a business card.
People who like trees and hate waste and whose guest-room closets are already haunted with several thousand ghosts of business-cards past.
As you can see I have some baggage around the issue of printing business cards.
And yet, all these conferences are coming up. There are all these great people that I will have a chance to meet and give them my business card, making it so much easier for them to follow up and stay in touch with me.
Then last week I saw the light:
Lag BaOmer is coming. I can tell because the boys in my neighborhood can be seen schlepping enormous fallen trees up 45 degree inclines on any given afternoon.
Now is the perfect time to purge all the kindling wood cluttering my closet AKA thousands of useless old business cards, and burn them in a giant cleansing conflagration in the merit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.
And then make a fresh start with a new business card, hot off the digital presses.
But What to Put on My New Business Card?
The most obvious choice would be this blog.
I could say:
My Parnasa: The Jewish Business Blog
But while this blog is closely related to both my business and life goals, it’s not the sum total of who I am and what I might offer some nice person I meet at a conference.
I am also:
- A creative non-fiction writer
- A web business strategist
- A developer of WordPress websites
- A copywriter
- A marketing consultant
- A Parnasa activist
- The coordinator of the Temech Conference
- The owner of a historical translations business
- A micro-farmer
And this list grows and changes on a regular basis.
How can I get the sum total of who I am on a 5X9 business card?
After a lot of thought, I came up with the following business card:
When I showed it to a few colleagues I respect, I got some rather strong reactions, both positive and negative.
The doubters felt that this is not what a business card should be or that I was failing to convey a core message.
The likers felt that it was simple yet different and it had an up-to-date web-esque feel.
I thanked them all for their input.
But Will it Work?
My goal here is different than the standard goal of a business card, which is to convey a credible message that this person is worth knowing due to their association with whatever company, organization or message is logo-ed on their business card.
“Oh, you’re the VP of Marketing at Apple Inc? In that case, I will take some time to talk to you a bit more and follow up too.”
My goal is different.
It’s more like.
“We met. If your meeting with me gives you the feeling that I am worth knowing, then here is a friendly invitation to learn more about all the things I do and get in touch.”
Whether or not this approach will work, we’ll probably never know, since the effectiveness of a business card is almost impossible to measure. Still, I’ve included a quick poll at the end of this post to see what the general reaction is.
Meanwhile I have 500 of these business cards and I’m pretty confident I’ll use them all, since neither my name nor my personal domain name are likely to change in the next 5 years.
And now I can go burn all my other old cards with a clear conscience.
Happy Lag BaOmer!