Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tag Lines from the Abyss and other Business Card Mistakes (The Waldo Factor, part 18)

First impressions are huge. They always have been and they always will be. That's why, when I teach my LinkedIn Black Belt sessions, I tell people that when the screen opens on your profile, your story begins at that moment. No story, fewer connections, fewer profile views, less business.

For many the first impression they get of a company is on the business card of the company representative. When you meet in a business setting, part of the etiquette is to exchange business cards. If you meet several people, remembering what each person does may be a chore.

So when you get back to the office and actually look at the cards, what is on that card becomes very important. What that card says or does not say about the company can determine whether not business will occur, and whether the card is scanned or trashed.

FYI, rather than scan a card I invite the person to connect on LinkedIn.

A cool logo and a name that means nothing does not make people look you up. "Oh, what a cool logo - I better check out the web site to see the bigger version..." Not gonna happen...

Your business card, like your LinkedIn profile, has to start working for you from the very first second people look at it.

Most company names do not explain what the company does, and unless you are with Lockheed, Northrop or CSC, you better have some explanation if you want the card to work for you. The smaller your company is, the harder that business card has to work.

So, tip # 1: avoid meaningless tag lines!

Avoid slogans like "Exceeding customer expectations", "Excellence through quality", "We do IT all" (IT, information technology - cute, right?), anything with "transformational" in it. You get the idea.

These slogans could have been borrowed and re-purposed from Chinese fortune cookies, and if you paid an ad agency for them, get your money back.

So what should your business card have?

First and foremost, your name and contact information in a readable type size.

Secondly, your business card needs to define your area of expertise: healthcare IT, network security, facilities management, and the like. Short, sweet and to the point - the more niche the better, especially for smaller firms.

Third your NAICS and business status could be helpful, especially in government contracting. If you are an SDB, woman or veteran owned business, or some other small business, say so - but don't lead with that.

If you want results from a business card, skip the hype and offer some real information. You might even want to include your LinkedIn url.

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