I have attended many conferences and networking events over the course of my recruiting industry career. Almost all have been interesting and worth the investment. Of course, there are the odd few that do not fall into that category. Either co-workers stepped on my toes, literally and figuratively, or the presentations were out-dated or redundant, or conference attendance was so low and the prospects so few that the cost of exhibiting or merely attending lacked real value…

Conferences I ventured off to over the last couple months didn’t fall into any of the categories above. The information shared was credible, valuable, and current. Additionally, attendance was up – this is a very good sign… But I did notice an interesting trend. Fewer and fewer people are carrying business cards. And if they did have them, they only had a few and were rationing them very carefully. Saving them for the best dance partner, I guess.

As an exhibitor, many times, I felt like a second-rate belle of the ball, as attendee after attendee just asked if I could just scan the code off their conference ID. Biz cards seem to be prehistoric, less valuable, but what I noticed all around me were connections lost. The little piece of cardstock in my hand, tucked inside my brief case, in my planner, represented a meaningful conversation with a new acquaintance and I missed the sometimes frantic trading of cards. Even vendors shared fewer pieces of tangible information.

Details that identify who I am, what business I work for, and various ways to reach me are important to me. I will always carry a business card. I will always offer it first. I will always be willing to share specifics about who I am and how I might be able to help you. I think with the onset of multiple social media sites that individuals may think that a small indentifying piece of paper might be unnecessary now. Untrue.

The people I remember are those ones who pressed a card into my palm. That connection is every bit as real as a handshake, if not more so, for it is tagged and you take that tag with you. A business card makes you more searchable on a desktop, on an actual desktop - not a virtual one. So..., if that is how I feel, others may feel the same. That conversation with Rayanne was more memorable because she shared details of how to reach her and the deets were etched in a card that included multiple ways to connect.

There was no "facebook me" or "find me on LinekdIn" or "follow me on Twitter." That was left in the receiver's hands, literally. My card is on a couple desks out there. Exactly where it is supposed to be.

by rayannethorn

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Hey Rayanne,

I am with you on the business card necessity. When I managed a salesforce, one of the ways I could tell if someone was actually getting out there in the world and doing their job was how often they needed to reorder business cards. I guess that metric wouldn't fly in this age.

It was a pleasure to meet you at SHRM 2010 in San Diego and I hope our paths cross again.

I was just trying to decide if I should order business cards myself. I don't attend a ton of events, but it does seem incredibly worthwhile to have them on-hand when I do. I also agree that in a world where so many connections are made virtually, the physical (yet professional!) contact that happens when passing a card is becoming rare and therefore even more valuable.

Time to crank out some fresh designs and place the order. Thanks!

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