Everything we do in business today is digital — sending mail, signing contracts, attending meetings, even networking. The business card is one thing that digital will not fully replace anytime soon.

Here are five reasons why the old school business card is still important — and why you should have a pocket full of them at all times.

1. Swapping contact information digitally is impersonal.

Networking is about making genuine connections. Sending contact information via text or email on the spot is convenient but it is also extremely impersonal. Engaging in eye contact and actual conversation is how real relationships begin.

Two individuals with their heads buried in their phones typing away won’t create any kind of significant memory of the encounter. You can easily transfer the information from a business card to your mobile device after the conversation.

2. They are the most effective direct marketing tools.

Email marketing, search engine optimization and paid media all do a great job of attracting leads and prospects, but they still aren’t as effective as an in-person meeting sealed with a handshake along with a business card exchange.

You can encounter a potential lead or contact at any time — trade shows, industry conferences, happy hour, airport lounges — and arming yourself with business cards at all times will ensure that you never miss an opportunity to make a valuable business connection. Keep some in your pockets, wallet, money clip or laptop bag so the next time you encounter a prospect you are prepared.

3. A business card is the first impression of your brand.

When you meet someone that could potentially be a great prospect or connection, don’t you want him or her to walk away with a great first impression? A memorable business card does a lot more than just pass on an email address or phone number.

4. Creative business cards get shared — continuing to market for you.

A business card is a physical object that a potential prospect leaves the encounter with. Your brand stays with them.

If you meet a prospect and exchange email addresses and phone numbers you each walk away with another contact on your mobile phone — it ends there. If you hand over a creative business card that makes a great impression that person is likely to show it to other people — putting you and your brand in front of additional prospects.

5. Business cards show you are prepared.

Have you ever had someone write his or her contact information on a cocktail napkin and hand it over to you? How about someone that had a mobile phone with a dead battery? It isn’t the most professional approach.

If you met two individuals and one was scrambling to find a pen and something to write on and the other person simply pulled out a business card, who would you want to do business with? Showing that you are prepared at all times is a great indicator that you are professional.

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