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When you start networking, you should have a simple college student business card. You’ll give your card to people you meet so they can contact you if they need to. It should have your name, email address, phone number and LinkedIn address. You may even choose to include your LinkedIn profile as a QR code…
The card should have a plain, simple design. Don’t overstate yourself. You’re not a consultant. You’re just a grad. Unless you’re a “creative”, avoid a fancy design. Online DIY printing services can be less than $20 for 250 cards, so there’s no excuse not to have these.
Always carry your student business cards
Be sure to always keep a few student business cards on you. You can never be sure whether or not you’ll get chatting to someone who you might want to give one to. I’m a chatty fellow and I’m genuinely interested in people. I’m always making small talk with people I meet on my daily walks. Not networking. Just chatting. If you chat to enough people its almost certain that you’ll occasionally talk to someone who’s relevant to you.
One time I was talking to someone on my local beach about some soil mapping work I’d been doing. That’s not the most exciting topic in the world for most people, but they seemed interested, so I kept talking. It turned out she was an engineer with a water utility. The utility had been struggling to find a way to relate soil types to their failing water pipes.
Ummm. Well. I didn’t have a business card on me, but I certainly was able to give her one the next time we met. And so began an important line of work in my small consultancy.
Business card etiquette
I must confess that I have never been one to bother too much about rules. I think that rules, in this case business card etiquette, can just serve to distract you from the primary purpose of meeting people and making it easy for them to contact you if they want to. Having said that, there are a few points that are worth making…
- Always remember your student business cards. They’re no good to you in you’re desk drawer.
- Carry your cards so they don’t get damaged. Dog eared, smudged and crumpled cards give the impression that you’re disorganized, untidy and careless.
- When you offer your student business card to someone, present it face up and oriented to them so that they can read it easily.
- You don’t need to give your card to everyone you meet. Save them for people you’re having a good conversation with and who you’d like to meet again.
- If you must write notes on the back of someone else’s business card, remember that lesson you learned in kindergarten… if you cant say something nice then don’t say it at all. Comments are not for your eyes only if you accidently drop a card!
- Don’t just take someone else’s business card without reading it. Putting it straight in your pocket or bag can give the impression that you’re disinterested.
How do you give someone your student business card?
Like I said, I’m not one for rules. I think that handing over a business card needs to happen naturally. You need to be able to read the situation. Sound a bit like the dating game? Well, it is. The same things apply, but professionally rather than romantically.
So, assuming you’ve built a rapport with the person, you could say something as simple as…
- I’ve enjoyed our chat. Do you mind if I leave you with my business card? It has my contact details and LinkedIn address on it. OR
- I’ve enjoyed our chat. Would you like to swap business cards so that we can keep in touch?
Hopefully they will give you their card too. That will give you the opportunity to grow your relationship. Emailing a link about a topic you were discussing is a great way to do that.
College student business cards only need basic information on them and with so many cloud-based providers these days, should be simple and inexpensive to create. They’re of no use if you forget to carry them.
As for business card etiquette, you should receive someone else’s business card in the same way that you’d like them to receive yours – politely and with interest.