The Secrets to an Effective Business Card

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The secrets to an affective business card isn't rocket science but it is very important. Almost every day I go to some kind of networking event around the Twin Cities. Although I tend to focus my efforts on Minneapolis and St. Paul proper, I sometimes reach out to the suburbs.

And in all of this networking I do, the one constant is swapping business cards. And, yes, I run into people who make the ultimate faux pas and run out of cards.

Hello again!

WOW! Thanks for all the good advice Bob! I really REALLY appreciate it! :)

I have taken your tips to heart and have revised my resume again! Your advice with the objective section was especially helpful! Though I have been researching various resources regarding resume tips, I haven't been able to come up with much to develop a stronger objective. Thanks for pointing me back in the right direction!

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Megan Holewa



Or worse yet, forget their business cards. But they can always write their contact information on a napkin or a sticky note or something if it's important that I get in touch with them.

However, it never ceases to amaze me how many bad business cards are out there. Here are some pretty simple rules you can follow to make certain that your business card does exactly what you need.

Keep it simple!

Business cards are like tiny billboards. They should communicate only the most important information as quickly as possible.

The only thing people really need to know is who you are, what you do, and how to contact you. Put the name of your firm on there and your logo if it's small and simple. Also your name, of course, and at least your address, phone number and email address. And your website address if you have one.

Tell people what you do

Quick and simple. Someone should be able to glance at your
card and know exactly what you do. For example, here are a few well written cards on my desk:

  • Website development – Merchant Card Processing – Payment Systems
  • Full Service Sign Shop
  • Aprons, Bags and Apparel for Dairy Producers

Never get more complicated than that.

Or, put a teaser offer on the card

My card has a simple offer on the front.


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But remember, it has to be simple and easy to understand. Don't put a paragraph of copy on a business card and expect people to read it.

Keep the graphics simple and clear

Graphic artists are notorious for this. The card is so full of colors and graphics it communicates nothing more than the fact that as a business person, I don't want them designing my business card because I'm afraid they might turn my card into a “personal work of art.”

And don't have five different fonts on a simple little card. It makes it too difficult to read. Keep it to two fonts maximum. The rule of thumb for a web page or a flyer is to have no more than three fonts. Imagine breaking that rule on a 2 inch by three inch piece of cardboard. But I see it all the time.

People have to read it!

The majority of my work comes from web designers who want copy on their client's site that's as good as their design. So I network with a lot of web designers.

Recently, I received business cards from two different web designers at a business expo I attended. Now, some web designers start out as IT people and some of them start out as graphic designers. I immediately knew both of these people started out as graphic designers who moved into web design.

How did I know? Their cards were very “cool”, their logos seemed to be the most important thing on the card, and the text was so small that my middle-aged eyes required a magnifying glass to read them!


Making someone mad just before they contact you is not a very good policy. Some of the most effective cards in the world are just text on high quality paper.

One last suggestion. Remember the comment about scribbling on a napkin? As a final test or a first draft, imagine you just met someone at a networking event and you had to scribble something quick on a napkin because you forgot your cards.

grab a small scrap of paper or a napkin and scribble on it just what you need to communicate to them as they are standing impatiently waiting for you. That's the first draft of your card.

Lastly, don't get cheap, flimsy cards from your printer and don't print them on your home printer!

I've actually had "business people" brag to me they ran off their cards on their home printer. They didn't need to tell me. I could tell. And I couldn't toss them in the trash fast enough.

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