Business Cards to Digital Exchange – A Paradigm Shift

The writing is on the wall for the end of business cards.   Let’s face it – traditional business cards are archaic in a world of digital alternatives.  While I’ve carried them for years, I have never been a big fan of them.   Once you have them in your hand, you know that once you get them home, they’ll end up in a box, gathering dust.  Even if you find a great storage and retrieval system, you can never seem to find the one you need at just the right moment. When you need one, it’s most certain to be in your desk drawer and not at your disposal.  I’ve even considered purchasing a business card scanner to scan in the hundreds of cards collected during networking events and shows, but opted to wait.  I’m sure glad I did.

Social Marketing Conversations Biz Card

The next time you’re itching to whip out a business card at the next event, think first about one of these digital data exchanges, instead:

Bump someone.

Not literally, of course, unless your event is a late-night rave.  Bump is an app that allows folks to exchange contact information with other fist-bumpers holding their  smartphones.  Bump is very popular app, downloaded by more than 80 million people and used to share millions of contacts, photos and files each day.   The folks at Bump have even released an app called Bump Pay, which lets you pay your friends by just bumping your phones together.  A nice alternative, next time you’re short of cash and want to split a lunch bill!

Steven Groves, our CEO no longer asks for a business card when he encounters a new associate, but rather, asks the person to just “loan” him a card.  He’ll scan the card, return the card and then connect right away on one of his favorite networks – LinkedIn.  Steven is a big fan of our next option – CardMunch.

Munch a card.

With one quick easy scan from your smartphone’s camera, LinkedIn’s CardMunch digitizes the data, and creates a contact on your smartphone straight from a business card. It returns the LinkedIn profile (if one exists), and as an added benefit, it will show you the contacts you have in common with that person.  It’ll even allow you to easily send a one-click Linked In invite to your new contact.

Connect on the spot.

Sure, a business card is a nice, simple exchange of information, but what do you do with the information on the card?  Many times we’ll research the person on LinkedIn and possibly decide whether to send them an invite to connect.   Now, why not save a step and connect right away with one another on LinkedIn, or Facebook, if you established enough rapport?   If you request that someone link to, follow, or friend you, you’re most certain to create a lasting, engaged “social” connection.

Technology evolves sometimes causing lasting change in institutions we’ve become accustomed to – just look to brick-and-mortar bookstores and traditional newspaper media as examples.  Connecting and trading information is certainly ripe for an update.  Business cards may be next.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1362123186 Abhay Khurana

    Great post – you’ve really nailed some of the core issues with business cards..

    Business cards as a tool have their own intrinsic advantages and disadvantages. For some people, particularly those who have become accustomed to their use, the advantages of business cards outweigh their disadvantages. They will continue to use them.

    However for others, particularly younger demographics, business cards are seen as outdated and dysfunctional. Their advantages (like simple exchange) are outweighed by their disadvantages (physical space, poor organization, follow up, etc.). These people are looking for an alternative and may be abandoning business cards if they ever used them.

    A good digital solution will appeal much more to the second category of people, and then the first category may trickle in later.
    The options that you’ve mentioned are fairly good, but are more transitional technologies, bridging the gap between the world that still uses business cards and a real digital solution.

    We’re building something that’s the total solution, providing not only great digital advantages but a platform that can be adopted by as many as possible and actually replace business cards for those who use, not just make them less of a pain in the arse.

    We’ve just started beta. Feel free to sign up for an invite at http://www.feathrapp.com

    • http://www.StevenGroves.com/ StevenGroves

      Put my name on the list today Abhay – let me know when it’s ready!

  • AP

    Supre relevant, not just because of technology changes, but because so many folks are networking and job-seeking currently.  Bump is a great idea with a couple of execution glitches, but this CardMunch (and Abhay’s new plan) could be ideal.  Thanks for a great reminder!

  • AP

    Make that super, not supre!