Every now and then someone says something unexpected in the comments section below this column, but one comment stood out the other day. It came from a reader asking for something to be done about the dangerous state of the business card.
“I’m tired of being in meetings by young professionals explaining why they didn’t give me a card,” the man fumed. “I’m just saying, if you want me to remember that you were in this meeting, you can give me a fucking card: otherwise in a week, when I look at my card for this trip, you won’t be there.
“What’s up with these shy idiots? Why didn’t their bosses insist? Why didn’t their parents teach them?”
Bah, I think. Thankfully, I don’t meet anyone like this in my day job. Except I do.
A week later, I was at a business meeting and, as usual, I arrived without one of the hundreds of business cards I’ve kept in the back of my desk drawer since the pandemic began.
It seemed like a good place for them. Long before the pandemic, it felt like credit card usage was fading in the age of LinkedIn and airdrops. Just because the physical hybrid has returned, do people really want to go back and exchange germ-laden cardboard carrying data that takes hours of tedious labor to type into a phone at home?
As it turns out, at this meeting, they did a really good job. Everyone there is pulling out a business card. man. female. young. old. Everyone seems to have one, except me. The third or fourth time I weakly apologized for not having a card, a middle-aged man asked briefly, “Why not?”
It’s a shame that another, slightly older (and more famous) man didn’t leave his card at home. I watched for a while as he shoved one by one into the hands of every man he met without offering anything, no matter how lofty, to a woman he introduced to him.
So is the business card back? yes and no.
As the pandemic eases, sales are rebounding for VistaPrint, the parent company of VistaPrint, one of the world’s largest makers of traditional business cards.
The company told me last week that business card revenue rose 10% for the year ended June 30. But one particular type of product is really popular: cards with QR codes or other types of technology that allow you to download contact details digitally.
“When we launched digital business cards (physical cards with digital elements) in April, it became our fastest-growing new product launch in the category, and we expect to continue to grow,” said Emily Whittaker, executive vice president of commerce at Vista. .
work it podcast
Whether you’re the boss, deputy or incoming, we’re changing the way the world works. This is a podcast about working in a different way.
Join host Isabel Berwick every Wednesday for expert analysis and a water cooler chat to discuss leading workplace trends, the big ideas shaping today’s work — and old habits we need to ditch.
This trend was evident at the conference I went to, in the middle of another hairpin loop, a man waved his iPhone at me and said, “Point your camera at this.” After scanning the QR code, his contact The method is immediately sent to my phone’s address book.
Another took a hybrid approach, holding a bamboo card with a QR code on the back, which she kept after someone else took it.
Clearly, an army of advanced technologies is changing the business card. They include NFC or Near Field Communication chips that people stick to their phones or, in a (hopefully rare) case, implant in their hands.
I’m not sure how angry FT readers will feel about this shift, but personally, I’m hooked.
I like the physical certainty of the printed cards, indeed, when I get home, the cards remind me of who I have, rather than the phone details that transfer invisibly. A dead battery can also be a problem for the QR tribe.
But I’ve spent hours of work transferring beautifully printed contact details to my phone and fiddling with camera apps that promise to do the same but rarely do, getting someone’s details right into your contacts People list is a very happy thing.
I think the nicely printed FT cards on my desk really last a long time.