By John Mattos

We have always been told that in order to get a job we need to have a great resume, a clear and concise cover letter, and a solid portfolio. Those are all true statements however there is one more piece of your profile missing: Your business card! Yes, you can and should have a business card, even if you don’t have a job or business. Maybe it should be called “networking card”.

Once you are looking for a job, you may go to career fairs, interviews, and some other networking events. You will probably bring with you your resume and portfolio, which is perfect, but what about the times when you are not at a specific event–you might just be grocery shopping?

The truth is however, you never know where you will be and who you might meet, but you need to be ready and quick on your feet to introduce yourself professionally – this is the key – networking, and if you have a great business card you are ahead in the game.

What makes a good business card? Can you describe yourself completely in 3.5 x 2 inches piece of paper? Are there rules? These are the three questions I hope to help you out with today.

1)     What makes a good business card? –

 a)     Physical attributes: In my personal opinion the feeling (texture) and firmness is extremely important. I like to compare that with a good handshake. You know the person is serious and ready to network; they are professional in what they do.  This is part of that first impression we want to leave with the person we meet.

 b)     Creativity: Have you ever received a business card from someone that looked really different, really cool that almost didn’t look like a business card? Well they are out there! Check Cardonizer for some examples: – You can be as creative as you want, that’s why I love business cards. You can bring your personality out into a piece of paper. The truth is, there are no set in stone rules when it comes to design, you just need to pick one that describes you and feel comfortable enough to give it out. However I really encourage for you try to step out of the “boring, standard” look so you can stand out among the other business cards out there.

 c)      Can you describe yourself on a 3.5 x 2 inches piece of paper?  Yes! You might not be able to show everything about you, like a resume, but then again this not a resume, this a document that gives you a chance to brand yourself, giving yourself a title based on your skills and competencies. For networking purposes, in my opinion, you need to be as brief as possible and let the card speak for itself. Working at MSU I have a business card from my department, but I also have my personal business card as a social media strategist. I am not affiliated with any company specifically, but I am still branding myself as a Spartan because that’s who I am, and it matters to me.  

I wanted my business card to show briefly how I brand myself, and giving the basic information if I need to be reached. I also placed a QR code that directs to a website that leads the person to my online profile. There, they can discover more about me as a social media strategist. My card is very simple, but it does bring out the social medial flavor. I got my card from Moo in partnership with the website About.Me.

 d)     Are there rules? Yes and No. When it comes to design and content, there is a great deal of flexibility as seen from the links above. However, when it comes to using the business cards, yes – rules apply. In a quick summary these are the three points shared on their website.

 1)     Do not hand out your business card like a flyer or Halloween candy!

2)     If someone asks for your business card – give it, but it is a two way street – ask for their contact as well!

3)     Business cards are not meant to be collected. Only get ones that you are really planning on following up.

 For more details on these tips visit Careerealism

 Now go get your business card, and and start making some business happen!


John Mattos is the Communications Assistant for MSU Alumni Career Services. He is also a graduate student studying advertising, a student employee in the MSU neighborhood initiative, and moonlights as a social media strategist.












  1. TimeFramePhoto 22 November, 2011 at 01:16

    A business card that’s not associated with a particular business is what we used to call a “calling card.” It serves all the same important functions you outline above, and I’m a huge proponent of them. I think you hit the key points but in my experience two factors matter the most:

    1. Quality counts. Don’t cheap out and use the free sample cards offered by a zillion websites. Spend a few bucks on a quality card that looks as if you care about your image. As you said, this is all part of the first impression.

    2. Less is more. I see business cards every day that are so littered with text that I can’t — and don’t want to — read any of it. A QR code or URL can get folks to a place that lists every possible avenue of contact, right down to that alternate FAX number. Add your name, of course, and little else to keep it simple.

    Nice post!

  2. Scott Westerman 8 November, 2011 at 11:56

    Great post, John!

    Another thing I’m learning about business cards is that they should be structured to be easily scanned by the growing number of card reader apps. These cool applications grab the text, analyze the layout and do their best to populate a contact in your smart phone’s address book. Some of the wilder card designs don’t ingest as easily, so testing our layout before printing is a good idea.

    Can’t over-emphasize the value of a QR code, too. And here’s a fun twist: If you have a name plate on your office door that allows it, place your QR code there, too. I have mine send the person to my LinkedIn profile, but that’s not a requirement. If you write an interesting blog or brand yourself in another way on the web, send people there.

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