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The New Face of Business Cards - Part 1: Simple or Enhanced - The Elements of

Business cards have been one of the de facto work accessories—the standard-bearer for providing others with your basic business and contact information no matter the industry.  In an early article, I wrote about why one needs business cards, their basic format and how one can still have that professional edge for them on a limited budget. However, business cards are changing, constantly evolving as other delivery methods for providing one's contact and business information match the electronic age. It was once enough simply to list your company, name and title, physical address, telephone numbers and e-mail address. Today, with v-cards and widgets from professional social networks making providing your information electronically, the physical business card needed to adapt to the electronic age.  Today's economy is also another factor in the new face of business cards.  Where many people are being downsized and laid off and may be contemplating whether their next move is to work from home full time or consult or freelance while they maintain an out-of-home job in anticipation of a potential layoff, the home-based business competition is increasing. Your business card and its presentation may be the difference between having an edge over the competition. 

Like résumés, which have a range of styles including functional, chronological and executive (to name a few examples), business cards also now have a range of styles. Let's explore two basic types of business cards:  Simple and Enhanced.

Simple Business Cards
These are your standard, traditional business cards. It lists your name, title, company and basic contact information, and may include the logo and tag line that are your company's brand identity.  These are perfect for home-based professionals who are with a larger company (think Avon or Creative Memories) that already has a strong market share and recognized name, and where one knows immediately what the company does and what you as an associate of that company does with it. For more on simple business cards see The Right Words for Any Occasion in the resources/further reading section.

Enhanced Business Cards
What if you have a company or provide a service that is broader or less defined as say being an Avon representative? Alternatively, if you are a "consultant" or "designer," how do you define what you consult on or design? How do you stand out from the others in your industry?  This is where the enhanced business card becomes an essential tool for you. The enhanced business card still contains the same basic information as the simple business card, but also includes brief information about your specialties. For example, if the "designer" does Web design versus print work (brochures, handbooks, cards), to avoid confusion with their print-work design counterparts, they would want to include HTML and CSS design, blog design/templates, e-Newsletters or whatever electronic design work they provide that shows briefly, their skills and offerings. Conversely, their print-design counterpart would not include the electronic/Web offerings if that's not what they do, but might want to include stock and custom photography available if they are also (or have access to) a professional photographer.

Deciding on which business card style to use will depend upon your industry, goals and objectives. There is no reason why you cannot have a set of each style or add some of the features of the enhanced business card to a simple business card to define yourself further and your role at a larger company or organization. In part two, we'll look at what not to do on your business cards.

Further Reading/Resources
Bizymoms.com Expert Corner Article: "The Professional Edge—Business Cards and Other Marketing Materials."
IRS Small Business Guide
Marketing Essentials: Part 5—Behold the Business Card (from Smart Fuel)
Non-toxic Networking by Jennifer Gniadecki
Small Business Administration (SBA)
SCORE
The Right Words for Any Occasion by Erika Swanson Geiss (pp. 11-12)
Women Entrepreneur.com
Women's eCommerce Association International (WeCAI)

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