Is your business card compatible with the digital age?

Jacob2For hundreds of years, people have relied on a simple, paper tool for self-promotion—the business card.

Regardless of where business cards originated, the practice of exchanging paper cards has had an incredible run.

Without a doubt, paper business cards remain an important tool. However, here are some tips to help upgrade your business card to the digital age.

Get a vCard

Approximately 10 billion business cards are printed in the United States each year. That’s enough to give a business card to everyone on the planet and still have a few billion left over. The statistic looks more absurd considering the majority of those cards get trashed.

The vCard is a digital-only business card that creates no trash. vCards are essentially computer files that contain your name, contact information, and a photo, if desired. You can also include other networking information, such as links to your Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook profiles.

The great thing about this is your computer or smartphone automatically takes a person’s information and adds it to your list of contacts. Macs, PCs, and smartphones of all stripes are compatible.

It’s easy to make a vCard. Modern email clients, such as Microsoft Outlook, have tools to help you create one.

You can also create a vCard on your smartphone. Start by finding or entering yourself in your contact list. Then, edit your own listing to include all the information that youíd like to share. Next, email yourself this contact information; these steps can be slightly different depending on what kind of phone you have.

When you open the email you sent to yourself, your vCard will be in the attachment. It will have a .vcf or .vcard file suffix.

Congratulations, you now have a vCard file containing your information. But what should you do with it?

Share Your vCard

Paper business cards have worked so well because the people you’ve historically wanted to connect with were likely in your general vicinity.

Today, in many business environments, it’s quite the opposite. In a global economy, business workers often communicate, collaborate, and serve clients across huge distances and build working relationships over email and phone.

One sharing solution is to upload the vCard to a public folder on a cloud storage service, such as Dropbox. You can then create a link to the vCard file in your email signature.

If that’s too technical, you can attach your vCard to emails like you would any other file. The person on the other end can click on the file and add you to their contacts.

Additionally, Microsoft Outlook can automatically attach your vCard to every email you send.

Everyone Else’s Cards

Now that you’ve gone digital, there’s still a problem: everyone else’s paper cards. Good luck keeping all those little paper cards organized.

Fortunately, modern technology has practically solved this problem, too. Business card scanners—desktop devices that create digital copies of paper business cards—have been around for years.

Lately, however, they’ve been bypassed by cheaper smartphone apps.

After downloading one of these apps, you can use your phone’s camera to snap a picture of a business card. The app will then read the information on the card and create vCards that you can insert into your contacts.

A few great options are CamCard, Business Card Reader by ABBYY, and Presto BizCard. All three are available for both Apple iOS and Android.

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