The saying goes, “Mother knows best”, and (don’t tell my Mum I said this, but) it’s true…
Why, you may ask, am I opening a blog post about business cards with this fact? I had been going to lots of events, both informal and formal networking opportunities, and meeting stacks of amazing lawyers but not really knowing the best way to exchange contact information. And, spoiler alert: I had been pig-headedly ignoring sage, maternal advice to get myself some business cards.
My main concerns:
- It was 2016…I didn’t think business cards were relevant anymore
- I am a student, not someone who really should have a business card
- What on earth do you put on a business card anyway?
- Even if I did have them, how would I give them out without looking (and feeling) like an idiot?
I soon realised that connecting on LinkedIn or looking people up online and sending an email wasn’t always that effective. Surprisingly a lot of lawyers and judges aren’t on LinkedIn, and at networking events it can be hard to stand out so that that follow-up email gets a response.
With these thoughts uppermost in my mind, I took my Mum’s advice and created a business card, and I have not regretted the investment of a little time and money. I am now a business-card-for-students convert. Despite my concerns, I have managed to find a way to get them to work for me, and I want to pass that onto you here.
Addressing those main concerns:
- Business cards are still used in the 21st Century – I have been given them at work events, art galleries, law school occasions, and even at parties – it’s an acceptable and convenient way to exchange contact details
- Being a student with a business card can make you memorable (usually in a good way). One barrister now introduces me to people as ‘the girl with the business cards’ which always gets a laugh – a much easier way to start a conversation than an awkward handshake and a staid “What is your practice area?” or some other oft-asked and recycled question
- Think of your card as a mini-CV – keep it simple, clean and uncluttered. Contact details on the front (mine even has a photo to jog people’s memories when they come across it later in a handbag or briefcase) and on the back I have a few of my law work experience ‘highlights’ which I hope convey diverse interests to the reader and pique curiosity
- Delivery is key – this is the hardest part. If someone offers you their business card – then perfect, you just offer yours back. If that doesn’t happen (and it rarely does), it’s okay to say: “I’d like to send you an email; here’s my address” – while handing them your card. That way they are likely to give you their contact details for you to follow-up with. I always say, you’ve got to show your personality when networking – being a teeny bit cheeky or different can be good
For those of you who remain unconvinced – I understand. You don’t want to get the reputation as that ‘keen bean’ with the cards. But what have you got to lose? It’s really useful to be able to remind your contact in a follow-up email that you were ‘the one with the business cards’ – it’s a USP and an identifier. During a mini-pupillage this summer I met a barrister during a trial, who was on the opposing side of the case. We struck up a conversation in the break and exchanged business cards. I sent him an email that afternoon and in his reply, he wrote, “Seriously impressive business card by the way, I never did anything that creative.” and then proceeded to offer me both the opportunity of a formal mini-pupillage and a meeting with him to talk careers. If that doesn’t convince you to at least try, I don’t know what will!
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