Recently, it has come to my attention that one of my colleague’s business cards were running low on stock. Taking a quick look at them made me realise that they were also outdated as we have moved to another office a few months back, and, unfortunately, the business cards had the address on them as well. As a designer, I knew exactly what to do next. It was time for a makeover! I wrote the task down on my to-do list and got into the new design not long after that. It made me very happy; I have always loved creating layouts for print. Business cards, invitations, cards, etc. It had the perfect proportion of creativity and rules that made the work very enjoyable for me. Also, having the work later printed out in my hands made it even more appealing.

However, the decision has been made that we will not be printing out business cards anymore as most of the people thought it not necessary in today’s digital world. As a tech company in the time of technology, the business cards were apparently useless.

I was disappointed. I was heartbroken. I was in mourning.

The Mourning and Remembering the Good Stuff Phase

Being heartbroken about the sudden departure of our business cards, I was guilty of what most people do when they find themselves unprepared in a new situation like that — I kept picturing them in the positive light leaving all the negative sides behind.

Scribbling on thorn papers

Handing out business cards at business events with a lot of new people are surely a more elegant way to give your contact information then scribbling it down in bad handwriting, tearing that piece of paper and shoving it into somebody’s hand. Let’s not forget about the “I’m not sure you will be able to read my horrible handwriting” part. Oh, the horror!

Beauty and the Beast

Furthermore, nobody could argue the good old feeling of exchanging a well-designed business card with somebody who would hand out a poorly designed one. The immediate pride in my eyes was sometimes hard to hide — not because I made them myself (sometimes that wasn’t the case), but because I work for such a polished company that has time and resources to deal with everything that comes in their way.

Time capsule

Other than being beautiful and purposeful on their own, they had another trick up their sleeve that not many people knew about. I would often scribble down a couple of keywords that were discussed in the conversation while taking somebody else’s business card. It served as a type of time capsule, to remind me of the moment of exchange as well as the follow-up actions.

The Letting Go and Seeing the Negatives Phase

I went on like that for some time. Days were long and nights were even longer.

Space is precious and owning clutter is not cool

One day, a friend who saw me distracted asked me how I was, and I told him my sad story. He — a guy who is committed to optimising his life and minimising distractions and clutter — has not been very understanding of my issue. In his eyes paper business cards were nothing but clutter that either takes up precious space in homes or ends up in a trash can wasting the limited resource a business had to put into creating them. At first, I tried explaining how precious my business card collection is to me, but he made a valid point asking me how often I look at them or follow up on them. I realised I don’t do either. I just own them.

Other than shaking up my whole belief system, this realisation has also brought up some doubts in my head about the actual usefulness and purpose of business cards per sé.

LinkedIn is not a business card

There was one more thing bothering me more than anything else. How to seamlessly exchange contact information with someone with whom you actually wanted to. I was aware of two options. First one was to approach to people asking them for their LinkedIn account which I thought to be increasingly annoying. Don’t get me wrong, I do use LinkedIn and have nothing against connecting with people on the platform. However, I always considered it quite intrusive and loud. It is not a business card. The second option was to ask them for their email and then send my contact (or even worse: an empty email) to them. In my opinion, this was clumsy and slow. There was just nothing elegant in it.

The Moving On and Checking Out the Alternatives Phase

What I didn’t realise was that there was an alternative to it. There was an app that sends out an email in your name to the other party in a friendlier, more personalised way. When setting up the application, you choose which information to add, whether you want to add company’s logo or not and when the crucial moment of the exchange arrives, you can just click send. Wonderful!

I took some time to try out the options in the App Store and have come to the conclusion that Ping is the most suitable replacement. It is beautiful and works great. I wanted to be a kind and helpful colleague, so I decided to share my discovery with the rest of the team. But since Ping is only available for iOS users and we promote diversity in our company, I had to find an additional solution for Android users. Below is the list of the noteworthy alternatives you can start using today.

  • >We (former Ping) [Free, iOS]
  • Shoot [Free, iOS]
  • Clinck.me [Free and paid, Android and iOS]
  • Haystack [Free and paid, Android and iOS]

Have we forgotten an app that you love? Let us know, we’d love to hear about it!

Conclusion

Although business cards can be useful to have at hand, I came to believe that in today’s world they are far from being a necessity. Even more so, many companies nowadays (and people, in general) decide to act responsibly towards the environment and therefore, tend to think twice before printing anything out. If you need some more nudge into acting environmentally friendly, take a look at this website that has published some thought-provoking statistics on this topic.

In any case, after being fully recovered from the realisation that I will never lovingly caress business cards again, I now believe we should all rethink producing more waste and collecting more clutter. I think we should all take a long look at how we use business cards — or any other printed out product – and ask ourselves if it’s really as beneficial to us as we take it to be. And if the answer is “no” or “maybe”, then the time has arrived to move on and examine the alternatives.