20 February 2012

Do I really need business cards?

Ask Cath aims to answer your Business Networking questions.

Dear Cath
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?

Warm regards
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.

Dear Readers
What do you think? Should Senior Scientist continue using business cards?

Send your networking questions to Ask Cath at connecting@networkingfor.com
Editor's note: letters will be edited for length and content before posting.


  1. LOVE the idea that a new set of business cards is a way to refresh and re-energize your network . . . I'm definitely going to try that!

    Assuming that a senior scientist would want to try new things . . . how about QR codes? At a recent conference, I did away with all of my paper based cards and instead, when someone wanted to get my contact information, I turned on my smart phone, displayed a QR code that has the core information and allowed them to 'snag me'. Yes, it does take a bit more time during that engagement but, it's more likely that the person will actually do something with my information since it's already electronic and an email is simply a click away.

    Oh, and as a quick data point, I allowed 130 people to access my QR Code and to date, 73 have reached out to me . . . that's a HUGE uptick from the traditional paper-based cards.

    Here's how I've done this:
    Go to and http://www.the2dcode.com create a Contact Card

    Save the QR code image and add to your existing contact information in Outlook/Entourage/Gmail, etc...

    When someone wants your information, open your contact card (assuming on a tablet or smart phone), show them the QR and let them have at it or, you could print and stick on your badge!!!).

    BTW, the QR code scanner I use is RedLaser available for free in the Android Market or iOS app store.

    For those of you that want my contact, here you go: http://www.busyevent.com/BKSQR.html

    Good luck!

  2. Cathy Delhanty23 April, 2012 11:25

    Update from Senior Scientist

    "I ordered them!"

    To Senior Scientist
    Good luck and let us know how you do!!
    Kind regards

  3. like the info...i really need to design plastic business cards that help in marketing.