This is a guest post from Daniel Frank.

Are business cardsstill useful? As everyone gets smartphones and contact details become easier to exchange they may seem more and more like a waste of time. On the other hand the culture and traditions behind cards mean that they are likely to hang on for a while yet. But is it possible to keep them relevant for today’s online world. In the article below I hope to give you five tips that will help keep your cards useful, whether or not you have the latest Iphone.
  1. Integration: Make sure you put your website and email address on it, actually if I have to tell you that, you’re already sunk. However you can do more. For example you can put a QR code on it and anyone with a smart phone can upload you contact details, browse your website or send you a text message without needing to enter the details manually. A more expensive option is to make a mini CD
  2. Pen and paper: Use your card to make notes. For example if you want to show a client how important he or she is write down your cell number so that they can contact you out of hours. Write down when and where you met and it gives them a nice little reminder of who you are and why they have your card.
  3. Use as a coupon or voucher: I’ve seen some business offer a discount to anyone who comes in with a card. Not only is this a great way of advertising the business, but it also offers a great way to encourage employees to promote it. Collect the card when the customer pays and you’ll have a record of which employee gave it out. Reward the employee who’s had the most cards brought in by customers and you create a nice little incentive program. I’m sure you could run a similar online program, but it would be a challenge.
  4. Networking out of hours: Both of the above points are useful to bear in mind when you’re at the pub or in the bar. For example a friend of mine who works for a tailor always carries her business cards. When she spots a well-dressed business man or women she then approaches them to offer her card. When combined with a discount this has got her several referrals. Similarly my cousin found a photographer for his wedding when he mentioned that he was looking for one at a party and a freelancer who happened to be there gave him, his card. You have to be careful not to be too aggressive with this method, but it offers a chance to gain business in environments where, for example, exchanging numbers would be to forward.
  5. Design your card: Your card isn’t just a convenient way of passing out contact information. It is also a very small advert. So it is worth taking time to get it right. A well done card is memorable, contact details such as aren?t. This is probably the biggest reason why there is yet to be a decent online replacement for cards, you can’t customise a phone number but you can make cards out of anything and decorate them in any way you like. Of course memorable doesn’t mean good, but good means memorable.
About the Author:? Daniel Frank is a writer and?an online marketer and networker. He is currently working on behalf of Vistaprint famous for their freebusiness cards.