Jewels & Tools: Handy Resources for Marketing Your Business
6 Ways Networking Cards Can Boost Your Clients’ Professional Poise
By Paul Bennett – NRWA Director of Member Support, New Business Owners
We create many tools for our clients: resumes… LinkedIn profiles… and of course, all the various letters – cover letters, thank you letters, inquiry letters, proposal letters; the list is long. And we provide many kinds of coaching: career planning, job search strategies, networking tactics, interview prep, salary negotiation, and the like.
But how many of us create networking cards? After surveying quite a few of our members’ websites, I’ve concluded that hardly any of our members do. But we shouldn’t overlook networking cards because although they’re small, they can be very useful.
Networking cards are not the same as business cards. Business cards market organizations, products, or services; networking cards market people – and smart people will circulate their cards both when they’re unemployed and when they’ve got a job. Doors to success can open unexpectedly!
So, what makes for a great networking card? Besides the obvious (being visually attractive and error-free), here are a few other considerations:
- They’re created after the resume. If you create the card before the resume, while writing the resume you may discover errors on the card (and reprinting cards can be costly). If a client insists that you create their card first, you’ll need to explain why that’s a bad idea.
- They’re well-branded, with words and graphics that accurately and persuasively convey your client’s value proposition (this is why the personal branding process, which determines and articulates the value proposition, should precede resume development).
- They incorporate content from the resume. The best part of the resume from which to derive content would be the summary at the top of the first page; you can also draw upon the client’s elevator pitch or include information from other sources.
- They make it as easy as possible for someone to get in touch. Besides just the email address and phone number, include social media handles (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) and website, blog, or portfolio addresses (URL shorteners such as Bit.ly or TinyUrl.com are handy for this). For the ultimate convenience, a scannable QR code can link directly to wherever your client has pitched their tent on the web.
- They’re (optionally) printed on both sides. This gives you more room to convey the value proposition; for example, rather than just having a tagline on the front (typically underneath the name or along the bottom edge), why not elaborate using bullets on the back? Make sure the front contains all essential contact information in case the reader doesn’t read the back. If you don’t overcrowd the back side, this will leave room for handwritten notes (and of course, you could just leave the back blank).
- They don’t include a postal address, unless one is essential (otherwise, it’s a waste of precious real estate).
Creating memorable networking cards hones your writing skills. Because they have far less room than a resume, they require you to distill your messaging, strip away the fluff, and leave just the bare essentials. Just as with elevator pitches, you’ve got to make the most important points using the fewest words.
In a nutshell, networking cards are a great way for your clients to market themselves quickly and easily. Sharing one doesn’t require a computer, a phone, an internet connection, or even a ballpoint pen (and it’s far more convenient to just whip out a card from one’s pocket than fumble through a bag or briefcase). And recruiters can read a networking card much more quickly than they can scan a resume.
But what about just using our phones? The networking card keeps the networking going. It means that your clients’ potential leads don’t have to shift focus to reaching for their phones so they can enter details in a contact list.
Who knows how small marketing tools will get? Maybe one day we’ll be writing “tweesumes” for the Twitter-addicted!