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As technology moves ever forward toward instant access to information and communication, “old fashioned” ways of doing business can sometimes be cast aside, whether or not they ought to be. Not everything about the way people did business 30 or 40 years ago is completely out of date.

Business cards — though simple technology — are still an important part of doing business, especially if you rely in any way on networking. What’s more, all that technological growth that made those old ways of doing business obsolete has also raised the bar on business card design while lowering the cost of printing.

What are business cards good for these days? Whether you work in a large or small business, having business cards at hand can help you in these four ways:
Business Cards Start the Conversation

When you meet someone for the first time, getting that first conversation started can be difficult, if not downright awkward. Exchanging business cards gives you a common point of reference and pertinent information to get past that initial awkwardness and get the conversation going. A creative and well-designed business card can grab a person’s attention and lead to questions about you and your business.
Business Cards Save Time

In the past, business cards were fairly brief: a company name, a person’s name and title, an address and a telephone number. Then, as technology advanced, more information was added: fax numbers, cellphone numbers, email addresses. These days, business cards hold still more information, including social media handles, Skype usernames, multiple websites and on and on.

If you meet a possible business prospect, having all that information available on an easy-to-use card can avoid any miscommunication or misunderstandings about how that prospect can contact you. It also gives enough information that the prospect can research your business successes online in her own time.
Business Cards Establish Professionalism

Face it: As a professional, you’re expected to have business cards — in some situations, it’s a matter of proper business etiquette. But more than that, how your business card is designed can give prospects an idea about your attention to detail, creativity and professionalism. On the other hand, a crummy business card that shows little thought or creativity can sour a prospect to the idea of doing business with you.
Business Cards Can Lead to More Referrals

For all the fuss about online social networks, in-person networking is still alive and well. If a satisfied client has your card, he can easily pass your information on when someone in his sphere of influence is looking for the product or service you offer. Without your card, he might communicate that information in an e-mail that, in the nonstop flood of corporate communications, can quickly get buried.

Don’t get so caught up in smartphones, tablets and “the cloud” that you miss out on an important tool for business. It’s just a little piece of paper with some ink on it, but a business card can be your ticket to greater exposure, more productive networking and ultimately more business.
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