Ask Cath aims to answer your Business Networking questions.
After 25 years as a scientist, I am wondering if I really need business cards. The people who know me already have my details and it feels like the only new people I meet are sales people and pharmaceutical reps who want my details so they can pester me later.
What do you think?
Senior Scientist, Erasmus University
Dear Senior Scientist
It is customary to have business cards to hand out in meetings and at conferences. In some countries, especially in Asia, it is essential because your business card is seen as an extension of yourself. If you do not have a card, people could be offended and may think that you do not want to know them. Your business cards should be crisp and clean, accurate, and up-to-date.
In business networking, business cards do more than impart contact details. They make it easier for people to learn your name, especially if they are from a different culture, give people clues about you that they can use as conversation openers, and provide a physical reminder of meeting you. Some people manage physical information better than electronic data, so a card helps them remember you better than receiving an email with your details.
It is entirely up to you who gets to have your business cards so if you don’t want sales people to contact you later, don’t give them your card (although, if they are good sales people, they will not need a business card to find your details).
Why don’t you use the printing of your next batch of business cards as a catalyst refresh your network? Try to meet the next generation of scientists that are making their mark on your field of research, find new students, or try to find new companies interested in funding your projects. Make it an experiment. Maybe the next person you give your card to will give you the inspiration for a breakthrough!
Thanks for your email.
What do you think? Should Senior Scientist continue using business cards?
Send your networking questions to Ask Cath at firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor's note: letters will be edited for length and content before posting.