July 17, 2011 at 9:12 pm #135775
I was talking to a few new govies the other days and they told me that they didn’t have business cards as there division didn’t print them or reimbursement.
I was curious if that was common – Do you have business cards?
If so, were they covered by your agency? Did you self-print them yourself?
July 17, 2011 at 11:41 pm #135871
I have some left over from years ago when agencies purchased them. I will never order any again. With social networks, business cards are obsolete! Besides, they are not green and are often inaccurate as soon as they are printed. I have to say that it truly is a waste of money to buy or make business cards.
July 17, 2011 at 11:57 pm #135869
I, like Terry, have some left over from 2005 (pre-social networking). Actually had a co-worker ask me for one of my cards a couple of months ago… He had NOT heard of Linkedin…
July 18, 2011 at 1:04 am #135867
As a gov employee, at my installation IMPAC rules state you cannot buy “business cards”. However, you can by the business card forms and print your own. Yes, that is common. Uncle Sam will not allow you to buy certain things with “his money”. Since we are accountable to the taxpayers, our purchasing power under the micro threshold is limited to office supplies and supplies that are needed for our mission. In addition there are mandatory sources where we have to “buy”. We just can’t go to Wal Mart and buy things off the shelf. As far as social networks, we have a FB page for the installation, but our web browsing during work hours is limited to government functions. I can get Fedsmith, Govexec, Fed Times. I cannot get access to GovLoop and Fed Employee News Daily. If you are with DoD and are allowed to purchase business cards and surf the web during work hours, consider yourself lucky.
July 18, 2011 at 2:45 am #135865
My old agency has a template we would download off our intranet and print ourselves off government purchased card stock. I always made sure I had some with me when I went to trade shows – how else could I be eligible to win free iPods and stuff? <grin>
And NO, they are not obsolete. I cannot tell you the number of times I have been on travel to meetings and conferences where it really helps to have some to pass out. I usually just printed up 20 cards (2 pages of cardstock) for each trip, thus the info was always up to date. No matter how technologically advanced we get there will always be some regional office with IBM Selectrics on their desks.
July 18, 2011 at 3:27 am #135863
The only ones in my agency who have business cards are employment services and managers. We can buy them on our own, but they don’t get issued by the state.
I’ve gone back and forth on if I want personal business cards for networking purposes, or if I want cards with my agency information attached.
July 18, 2011 at 10:30 am #135861
I have them and use them. I designed and bought my own via fedexOffice. They are still valuable in my opinion and I must use them because invariably I’ll need one and won’t have any more in my wallet! What I put on them has evolved to reflect the changing face of technology…the mailing address has been replaced by the website, etc.
July 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm #135859
Yes our printing office will print cards cheaply for our employees. They are basic and not anything exciting usually black ink on your choice of white or tan background.
July 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm #135857
I get asked if I want them, but quite frankly, I use them so seldom, and the name of our division and branch keeps changing*** that it seems particularly wasteful to have 500 of something printed up when I may use a dozen of them before they become inaccurate.
You can buy sheets of laser-printable business cards, so I asked our office admin person to buy a package. I just run off a sheet before I head out to a conference. At conferences, I may give one to somebody whom I would like a copy of a paper from, or whom I would like to remain in contact with for research purposes. I usually come back with half of them anyway.
(*** I joshingly tell people that the “prime directive” in government is to not be findable, so the organizational name keeps changing in service of that directive.)
July 18, 2011 at 1:43 pm #135855
I recall that our office would pay for the first box of business cards, but we had to pay for anything over that. I wish they sold them in smaller quantities; I find that I do need them on occasion but am always left with the majority of the box. They are handy for conferences and other big networking events, but if you don’t attend those, then it might be possible to get by without them.
July 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm #135853
I have business cards because I ordered them from Vistaprint (aka, “Business Cards are FREE at http://www.vistaprint.com“). The company makes money if you accept the (multiple) options, like paying to remove the ad from the reverse, wanting glossy stock, embossed lettering, etc. So for the price of S&H, ~ $3.00, I have 500 cards for events like FOSE: http://www.fose.com .
My agency covers the cost of cards for specific individuals; e.g., “above my pay grade” and has a local printing shop with specific templates/logos.
July 18, 2011 at 6:23 pm #135851
July 19, 2011 at 12:23 am #135849
James E. Evans, MISM, CSMParticipant
Thanks for the headsup about Mini Moo. I tend to think that social media is S-L-O-W-L-Y taking the place of business cards. I don’t think we are there yet. There is still some value in business cards. The question is how much?
July 19, 2011 at 12:57 am #135847
We have them at work Our print shop used to do it, now it’s an employee who prints the template out on pre cut card stock. We get them 50 at a time. I think, well i must average about 5 a year that I use….and occasionally for their intended purpose, other times for ‘free lunch’ drawings, etc.
I don’t think i’d call them obsolete. Not everyone had a smart phone to do ‘linked in’ on or handy free wifi.
They come in handy to send out dubs to someone and tuck a card with your contact info into the package.
July 19, 2011 at 2:55 am #135845
Yes I have a business card but unfortunately it was not covered through my agency so I had to self-print
July 19, 2011 at 3:38 am #135843
Thanks for the tip – these are awesome.
July 19, 2011 at 12:05 pm #135841
I used Vistaprint as well, but my agency doesn’t pay for them. We have a template to print business cards on cardstock but I chose to have some nicer looking ones printed. The template is rather plain. Vistaprint is inexpensive and produces a nice looking product.
July 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm #135839
The question should be are business cards still revelant? I think in certain situations they are still preferred such as job hunting. Last year when I separated from active-duty service, I attended many job fairs. I was struck by the fact that most of the recruiters didn’t want my resume. They kept saying “Just load it into our system online. Do you have a card though?” I got many disappointed looks when I replied no.
Also, I received many cards while job hunting. I horded them like they were little bars of gold. You never know who might know who and be able to help you later — networking is key. On the other hand, my current employer doesn’t pay for business cards as I am a contractor, but I haven’t felt that is a disadvantage yet. Now everyone just asks what site you belong too and sends you a friend request from his/her phone while they are still talking to you.
July 19, 2011 at 12:55 pm #135837
I do have my own business cards. I pay for them myself (I use printbusinesscards.com because they have the best card stock I’ve seen).
Yes, social networking has made the need for many business cards obsolete. But I also use Card Munch to manage the cards. I take a picture of the card with my iPhone, it is transcribed, and entered into my contacts. I also have the ability to immediately connect with the contact via LinkedIn. It’s awesome.
Should the government provide them? Nope, buy your own! But you should have them!
July 19, 2011 at 1:26 pm #135835
Yup, I still have business cards and have handed them out to those who have asked. Here are a few thoughts to add:
-Are they obsolete b/c of social media? I don’t think that’s happened quite yet. And if someone is asking for a business card, it might very well be that the person is not a social media user. And if networking and sharing of contact information is the goal, then keeping a diversity of options – including business cards – would allow for greater flexibility.
-What’s on your card? I’m in DHS’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (BTW, Terry Hill, we’re looking forward to seeing you next week!) and our cards are printed in text and in Braille, which allows information accessibility for individuals who are blind. (Not all social media sites are 508 compliant). And how aobut QR codes on your business card – anyone using this?
-Is it greener to go the social media route than the paper route? Perhaps. But that would be like saying paper money is less green (ironically) than digital money. Although it does appear we’re heading more and more that way – i.e., I buy my Starbucks using an app.
July 19, 2011 at 3:02 pm #135833
Yes, I have to occasionally hand out business cards. No, my agency doesn’t buy them for me.
I designed and ordered my own through 123print.com. Their cards were on good quality card stock, and I got 200 2-color cards for around $16-$17 (that should be enough to last for 10 years at the rate I hand them out).
July 19, 2011 at 3:04 pm #135831
I think business cards will never go obsolete. Think about it, it takes 2-3 seconds to hand one over. It’s got all your contact details, your correct title etc.
Try entering that same info for someone into your smart phone (presuming you have one). Takes you about 5 minutes and You’re vulnerable to the ‘all knowing auto correct’, typos and abbreviations that made sense then but make none now. You’re vulnerable to the phone crashing – which they do and you losing everything.
i think the time when business cards will go truly obsolete is the day that comes that every single person on the planet has a smart phone, all with the same program that allows you to ‘beam’ your info to others.
Given the fact that 80% of this planet doesn’t even have sustainable electricity much less cell service, that such phones will be expensive enough – along with their plans – to make them cost-prohibitive to many and the rampant and everpresent security risks of allowing anyone to put anything on your phone that you don’t explicitly allow (such a program would be a hacker’s and spammer’s dream), it won’t happen any time soon. (i recently upgraded my phone and could have gotten a smart phone….for an extra 30 dollars a month for a data plan. Didn’t need one badly enough to nearly double my phone bill.)
I don’t think they will ever go away. There are social media apps that might stand in their stead, but there’s also the ‘social media is evil’ feeling when it comes to government owned phones and computers and people literally aren’t allowed to access things like linked in or others.
handing someone a business card is a small, personal interaction where you look each other in the eye and have that moment of contact. Social media can’t quite replace that.
July 19, 2011 at 4:00 pm #135829
Brian K. JohnsonParticipant
I must say that even with all the social networking that is available today, I still see a need, and a desire, for a business card. Business cards allow you to network with people in airports, outside agency meetings, other business professionals. Most government agencies have block social networking sites because of security concerns. I buy my own now and only include information that I know won’t change, and if it does change I hope its bceause I got a promotion and moved on to a better opportunity.
July 19, 2011 at 4:37 pm #135827
Leslie Ann HeimerParticipant
My company does provide them. Because I am in Bus Dev, I recently persuaded our Exec leadership team to include our capabilities on the back of our cards; takes marketing a little deeper!
July 19, 2011 at 5:58 pm #135825
I have personal business cards, but not work ones. The Navy doesn’t pay for them.
July 19, 2011 at 7:40 pm #135823
I am a contractor, and also a freelance writer. I have a few different flavors of business cards, including a moo.com card, as well as cards with my book’s logo on them. And I needed cards twice yesterday–once for a company fair, complete with giveaways (The Latin Grammys!) and once for a tech meetup–and yes, geeks are still using cards.
My husband, Jeff Furman (also a Govloop.com member), has a QR code AND the logo of his book on his card. The QR code still gets people curious/excited–even at a PR session at the Book Expo, his card stood out.
The only creature in my family who doesn’t have a business card is my dog Faith, and so I put her on the back of my moo card.
July 19, 2011 at 9:51 pm #135821
I have business cards and carry them to every commercial sector meeting I attend. You never know who will be new in the meetings to include defense industry professionals, civic organization employees, academia and a mix of others. We purchase that card stock paper (pre-measured with perforated lines) and do our own on our printing machines. The template is provided on such programs as Word or Pagemaker. Business cards are part of the networking activity associated with our profession, esp. in PR.
July 20, 2011 at 1:23 am #135819
I have some experience with social networking and all that that entails but I think that considering business cards obsolete is only true if you live in a bubble and only interact with people like you. Many is the time I’ve met folks for whom Twitter is a total mystery or who think Facebook is some kind of greeting card. And some of these people can end up being friends, neighbors, or clients. So I print up my own and exchange them when it makes sense; it’s just a small courtesy.
July 21, 2011 at 7:10 pm #135817
I absolutely have business cards – 1 set for my Office, 1 set for my super hero alter ego as a Bureaucrat Jedi.
My Agency would cover them, but I prefer to pay out of pocket to design my own. I have double sided, glossy cards with rounded edges. If my cards could talk, they’d say “PLEASE DON’T THROW ME AWAY NOOOOOO!!!!” They are the labor of love, and it shows – like a tiny gift from me to you upon meeting that says, I care enough about you to give you something nice, even though we’ve never met.
I see business cards as an investment – they are too often a missed opportunity to define your personal brand with something tangible. My business cards send the signal that not only do I want you to know who I am, I want you to remember me. Some people eschew paying out of pocket for them, and I get that. I prefer to think of it another way: if you could leave a lasting, favorable impression by giving somebody a dime, would you do it? My business cards are just dimes stamped with my name and a little lego Jedi.
July 21, 2011 at 10:53 pm #135815
At VA hospital where I work the admin officer submits a request for employees in their service which is either approved or disapproved – not sure about who has the final say – our mail room will print a designated amount if/when authorized.
July 22, 2011 at 12:42 am #135813
Over the years with local government, I have times when I could not have business cards printed and other time where it was fine. Sadly this was not always based on the needs of my assignments but on arbitrary rules of titles. However, presently I can make the case that I engage our communities and need business cards.
July 22, 2011 at 12:09 pm #135811
Wow – Yes, absolutely I have business cards. I’ve had them my whole professional life. I don’t want to use my social network to connect to everyone I give a business card to. But for two purchases, I’ve bought them out of my own pocket or just printed them using my agency’s template locally.
July 22, 2011 at 1:17 pm #135809
Not only do I have business cards provided by my company (why are 1000 the minimum order???), I have 7 different personal business cards. Vistaprint no longer requires their logo on the back for the freebies. You just pay shipping. They minimize the selection to just a few but they are in full color. I ended up using them so often I became a reseller for access to more designs and free image uploads.
I have 2 business cards for my side business (one for me and one for the business), I have 1 for myself in my professional capacity, and I have 3 that are pretty much just for fun (“bar cards” for myself before I went off the dating market). Lastly, I have one for PTA.
I know folks who use them in several aspects of their lives (hobbies, second businesses, political organizations, etc.)
I encouraged both my kids to have and use them. They are both teens. My older boy uses his when networking his DJ future profession (fingers crossed?) and his card includes QR code for “cool” factor. My younger boy impressed people he interned with this summer to pick up a job this fall by making sure all the bosses had his card…and remembered his name when the critical time came.
Sure social media is important but having that less technical business tool at hand when you run into a business contact at a grocery store isn’t bad either!
July 22, 2011 at 1:55 pm #135807
I do have business cards, and mostly becuase I pursued wanting them. Our Public Affairs office takes orders and then sends in one big order to the central office. They were covered by the agency, and I have used them quite a bit to hand out to people that I work with.
July 22, 2011 at 2:43 pm #135805
Meagan K. WarnckeParticipant
I do have them, and yes, our agency paid for them.
July 22, 2011 at 5:17 pm #135803
Herman N. CohenParticipant
1) Yes – there’s a form to request them, with specific designs
2) Direct pay by the agency
Herman N. Cohen
Training Officer, Dept of Veterans Affairs
July 22, 2011 at 8:41 pm #135801
I guess DoD, DoN is a bit stingier on purchasing business cards for it’s employees while the other fed agencies have free reign. “Everything” bought with fed dollars at my installation is watched like a hawk. I just assumed all fed agencies were strict on “individual” items like business cards.
July 22, 2011 at 11:12 pm #135799
Definately YES! Essential for my role. I am constantly meeting people and job candidates face-to-face.
They are covered by my agency – and they have them printed for me.
July 23, 2011 at 3:37 am #135797
I just got my Mini Moo cards – they’re fantastic! AND – I put a QR code as the picture and it links to my google+ profile which also has a link to my govloop profile.
July 23, 2011 at 3:48 am #135795
In Brazil the business card is still widely used.
Government agencies can order prints of our cards cost for institutional heads and directors.
I loved the idea of mini cards that are not yet in Brazil.
Interesting to minimal information on a card and if possible to use QRCode.
July 27, 2011 at 12:35 am #135793
I stopped carrying them 2 years ago. Check this out at one event I was continously asked for my card and I just said I don’t carry one but you can find me under my Twitter sign. I went to another event the next night and instead of names we had Twitter names. I felt so comfortable at the second event it was not even funny. Look I have a cell phone and we can beam each other or I can give you my Twitter name which links to everything. Sound good?!
July 27, 2011 at 12:17 pm #135791
I got some personal business cards printed after I graduated earlier this year. Initially I felt like it was pretentious for a person without a business to carry business cards, but I found more often than not I wished I had them (in D.C. especially, where networking is everything).
July 27, 2011 at 12:42 pm #135789
I have Moo cards too – they’re awesome! At $20, everyone should have personal cards.
July 27, 2011 at 3:38 pm #135787
My organisation uses them, but they are printed through my parent company on their card stock. They are helpful as they contain not just my info on the front, but on the back I have printed general info to contact other instructors within my organisation, since my work is done on travel and I may not be there to take a call for weeks. I hand them out to the trainees and anyone else who may be interested in our support, and they ahve worked, several times, for reach-back purposes…
July 27, 2011 at 3:53 pm #135785
If you interact with colleagues and the public, they are absolutely needed. I even have an app on my phone that reads the cards and puts the information into a contact database. When presenting/attending at conferences I write information about the person and their needs/requirements. I have seen others put a QR code on their cards that links them to their agency’s website or LinkedIn profile/resumes, etc.
I have never worked for a firm/company that didn’t provide business cards and since forming my own firm it was one of my first expenditures.
July 28, 2011 at 2:10 am #135783
I have business cards again, after dropping them for a few years. They’re double-sided and I pay for them myself, and print only one or two sheets at a time. The reason I carry them now is that they conserve my personal energy while enabling me to leave a key message (my value proposition) with select new acquaintances. Since I print them, there is maximum flexibility and no waste if I decide to make edits. It’s been working.
July 29, 2011 at 3:06 pm #135781
Ordered my own – Agency does not provide them.
July 29, 2011 at 9:45 pm #135779
It’s common as far as I know – I asked around for months and couldn’t find anyone who had gotten our agency to pay for business cards. I finally got some of my own, on my own, because it’s one of those things I always wanted to do when I “grew up.” So I guess I’ve grown up now.
Are they obsolete? No, not quite. I think they’re headed there, but until we all have Minglesticks (@NGGS11), we need something to hand off at the moment of contact. LinkedIn isn’t sufficient – that means I have to remember the names of everyone I met and then go find them later on LinkedIn. With my [terrible] memory for names, that’s just not going to happen, so business cards it is.
July 30, 2011 at 12:48 am #135777
I went about 10 years without cards. Never seemed to matter, though. If someone really cared about reaching me, they could always get a pen and jot down my email address.
Finally, I ordered a box. Now I carry a couple so the next time I’m at a conference and someone asks, I’ll have one. But it’s probably been a year.
As for me, I don’t like collecting them. I realized it was rude to refuse them if handed to me, so I accept them. But I find that most of the time, it’s someone selling something, not someone I actually want to contact.
May 15, 2016 at 10:03 pm #256850
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