There are those who suggest that the business card is a dead technology – a card that primarily aims to provide a link to a website in the opinion of some. However – perhaps we shouldn’t be worrying so much about whether or not the business card is in itself advanced enough to continue when there are so many ways iPhone apps have helped to improve the way we use a business card, without getting rid of the business card itself. It is now common culture to exchange business cards with people you meet, especially at dedicated networking type events and expo meetings. It can be very handy to simply give someone all your details in one go with an object they can keep and refer back to in the future. Swapping business cards with someone is also a great technique for avoiding awkwardness and breaking the ice when you first meet. It is a great way to learn someone’s business, as well reminding yourself of their name as it is usually on the card they have just given you.
Why should we keep the business card?
A physical card is something we like. It works and it has for years. There are no problems as such with the business card other than the fact we tend to misplace them quite so frequently, but even this is not an issue we tend to consider a problem as such. In a world that is being quickly taken over by technology in every possible way, it is somewhat nice to have a physical, paper-based professional item that still functions in life. From communication to transport, a lot of things are now dealt with on your mobile device, there are few people now without one, however there are a number of different types, with different operating systems, apps and specifications, so the changes of finding an alternative to the business card that would work for literally everyone the way the business card does – that simply isn’t going to happen.
What could you do? There are those who have a QR code on their business card, often directing the user to the business website. It’s a quick and easy solution, but you will still need to use a mobile phone with a camera, QR code app and internet connectivity (like I said, specifications). If someone wants to access the website on their computer or doesn’t have a mobile device to this standard they will need to type the address out the old fashioned way. Make sure you don’t replace the web address with just a QR code.
So – you certainly shouldn’t stop carrying your business cards around with you, particularly to any networking events you happen to attend, but you may want to give some of the latest business card apps a try.
There are two versions of CamCard – free and business. The full (business) version only costs £0.69, which isn’t bad for what the app gives you, of course this is most beneficial if dealing with other people who have the app but can actually be very helpful regardless. The app allows you to take a photo of the business card in question, it will store all of the information and allow you to keep that data safe and secure on your mobile device.
This is of course an excellent solution if you’re like me and you find yourself constantly losing business cards you’ve been given. The difference between the two is that with the Business version of the app you have a greater level of storage (you can keep more data in your virtual card holder) and you can customise your own business card to the extent of implementing AR. In other words you can set it up to play a video, promotional poster, and special offer or just about anything else when someone adds your business card to their card holder.
This is one that tends to be preferred by the LinkedIn users. Why? This particular app not only stores the information from the business cards but will search for matching information so that you can add your new contact on LinkedIn. Not surprisingly this particular app option was developed and produced by LinkedIn Corporation and while it is, so far, my favourite of all the business card apps I have tried (being simple, quick and no nonsense in terms of the functionality it provides) it is only available on Apple products at this time. The good news is that both Apple and Blackberry versions of the app are currently in production according to the LinkedIn team.
There are a number of others already on the market and I am confident that more will pop up over time, however I believe these to be the two of particular noteworthiness.
Kate Critchlow is a freelance writer working primarily in the technology industry but covering subject from app reviews to cheap business cards.