When people meet they usually exchange business cards, which can be a great opportunity to create a good first impression…

or an opportunity to give a less than ideal impression, as there can be several points that people starting out (and even those in business for a while) don’t realise.

Even in today’s online world, a business card is a quick way to give people your contact details so that they can proceed further after the meeting.

1) Use your free email address. This is something that is maybe a few pounds to fix, but comes up regularly. Even if you don’t have a website of our own you can pay for a personal email address, which will create a much better impression rather than using a free email account. Many times I have seen people’s business cards with a Hotmail or similar address, and I have even seen it in foot high letters on the sides of vans. With a personal email address people are likely to take you more seriously.

2) Only give a mobile phone number. Again, this can be easily fixed – you can register online for a non geographic number (perhaps an 0330 one) and redirect your mobile or home phone number there. In addition the non geographic numbers are included in many people’s bundled minutes. As well as the benefit of them being able to call you at low-cost, you are able to transfer the number easily between phones and locations depending on your growth – without having to change your stationery every time.

3) Have inadequate contact details. Whilst you don’t have to clutter the card with every way people can contact you, you do have to ensure that at least the main methods are covered such as phone, email and website if you have one. I have even had cards from people who didn’t have any of these. They probably thought they were being clever, but a google search of their name and business produced no results so their card went into the bin.

4) Use poor quality printing. Whilst you don’t have to spend many hundreds of pounds on extremely expensive customised business cards, they do have to be reasonable. I’ve been at meetings where two people gave me a very similar card with logo on it – I’d assumed they were from the same business but actually found out they’d just used a vending machine to print their business cards and chosen the same options! Reasonable business cards are affordable and a great way to stand out from others who think it doesn’t matter.

5) Don’t bring them. After going to the trouble of getting a good email address and phone number, then having reasonable quality cards produced, they are no good if you don’t have them with you. I have been to many meetings where people did not have their business cards with them, at one meeting a lady even hand wrote a few on napkins! If you are travelling by car, keeping a box in the car means you always have them with you. If travelling otherwise a box always in your case or folder will ensure the same result. I discovered pocket card cases, that hold around 30 cards, and always have one in whichever jacket I’m wearing to a meeting.

Business cards and the contact details on them are a great way to make a good first impression, and an easy way to stand out from your competitors.

What’s the most unusual business card you have seen? And how did it help you remember them?