A story in the Feb. 20 Bloomberg Businessweek magazine caught my eye. It took a different tack on business cards: it wasn’t an obituary!
In fact, it pointed out that, despite efforts by online services and hand-held devices to eradicate the nasty little critters, business cards were alive and living. Hmm. Are business cards a paper version of cockroaches, just lurking in the deep recesses of our wallets or suit pockets until something disturbs them and they emerge?
To be what? Stomped on? NO! Exchanged!
Why haven’t business cards died? Because they’re “identity currency.” And they’re still the easiest form of identity exchange with — in some cultures, including ours — cultural practices built around the exchange process itself. Search for “Japan + business cards” and you’ll find troves of articles on the proper etiquette of presenting a business card and what information it should contain. Business cards have become so popular in social circles that some people carry multiple versions to fit different occasions.
If you believe business cards are going away, think a moment: how often have you apologized for not having a business card on hand to offer in return when you’re proffered one?
Old habits die hard: especially when they’re more convenient than trying to negotiate the electronic lingua franca of sharing contact information across today’s various hardware and software platforms. Will this problem be solved one day? No doubt. But even if it is, I’m betting the business card will go on…and on…and on… Look! There’s another one lurking in the corner of my office. ;-)