Yes, you read that headline right, I think business cards are dead. I don’t have a business card; and I see no use for business cards in our digital world. Now I’ve had plenty of people look at me funny when they ask me for a card and I tell them I don’t have one, but that’s okay. I’m 6 foot 4, I’ve got read hair, and excel at building relationships, so I just don’t need a business card to stand out, and neither do you to be remembered.

Business cards are not helping you, so it’s time to find a better way to stand out. People don’t remember your business card, they remember the questions you asked them, how well you listened, and how empathetic you were to their situation and what they are doing. Simply put the best strategy at connecting and building relationships is to CARE. Things people never say: “Gosh I really want to do business with that guy because of his awesome business card.”

Besides, business cards truly are a thing of the past. Or, they should be, especially in this digital age.

I’m sure you can relate to this. You go to a conference, trade show or some networking event and come home with like 50-100 business cards. You stash them in a drawer with the best of intentions, but the next time you look at them is when you throw them in the recycling bin a few years later. Heck use them for coasters sometimes.

Intentional relationships aren’t facilitated by business cards

Still, you want to follow up on the three to five meaningful interactions you came away from the networking event with. After all, the reason you attended in the first place was to form intentional and genuine relationships – something that is rarely if ever, facilitated by a business card exchange. It’s like the famous quote goes: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

In fact, when somebody tries to give me a business card, I’m always inclined to retort back: “Sure, what’s your AOL Instant Messenger handle or better yet, what’s your fax number?” Obviously, that would stop them in their tracks but if it’s not clear to you, I think business cards are useless. I typically respond back with, “Let’s connect on LinkedIn, do you have your smart phone on you?” The rest is history. Ideally, LinkedIn becomes the starting point that will most likely lead to much more meaningful interactions and possibly a long-lasting relationship.

Did you know? Business cards began in the 17th century in Europe, where they were used to announce the impending arrival of prosperous or aristocratic people to their local town or even their home. Sounds pretty stuffy and self-serving if you ask me. Nowadays, you typically use your mobile device to share with people what you’re doing and hopefully to discover new ideas and concepts that they are working on. We’re using technology, not business cards to tell a story; make a true connection; and bring new people into our lives. And this is nothing new, it’s been happening this way for decades.

Follow-ups happen through a combination of actions

Follow-ups are taking place through social media, email communication, texting, conversations (on the phone and in person), and through a combination of all of these. So, I ask you, why waste precious resources to print useless business cards? Kill less trees and connect more. I should make a T-shirt that says that.

Frankly, I believe LinkedIn is the way to go, particularly for professional relationships. On LinkedIn you can push out meaningful content that’s relatable and genuine. But most importantly you get to see what others are doing; make comments and open dialogues; learn what their interests are; and really connect and get to know them. Not trying to minimize other social media platforms, which can be equally great for getting to know someone, but when it comes to building strong business relationships, I’m a huge proponent of LinkedIn. It’s a no-brainer.

People want to do business with people they like

Let’s face it. True candor and vulnerability come by first sharing. Vulnerability begets vulnerability. Because let’s not forget, people want to do business with people they like. Period. Handing off a business card is, in my mind, just checking a box. It’s meaningless, cold and transactional. So, there you have it. Business cards are dead. Believe me the goal in developing new business relationships is quality over quantity, depth over width. But I invite you to give me a viable argument and change my mind. Good luck!