Like a handshake, a business card can say a lot about you as well as the type of business you operate. Because it’s often the first point of contact for potential clients and therefore needs to create the right impression, I’ve put together a list of the most common mistakes I’ve seen when collating cards so you don’t unwittingly make them.
To be honest, I’ve seen some truly criminal business cards in my time but these are just the ones I’ve seen most often!
Six common business card mistakes
No contact name or just initials – So when I call you who do I ask for? It certainly makes a bad impression and an awkward start to any phone conversation.
An email address as long as my arm – I’d love to add firstname.lastname@example.org to my contacts, but I’d also like to do it while I’m still young.
No email address at all – That’s right. Not even a free Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo one. Some cards even have a professional website address but no email, resulting in a potential client having to trawl through their website in search of their email address so they can contact them.
How poor is that?
You really should have a professional email address (email@example.com etc) on your card to be taken seriously, but just having an email address of any kind is essential.
A wafer-thin free one – I know a lot of people use free business cards but I personally think this is a mistake. Your card says a lot about you and I’m sure most people wouldn’t describe themselves as being generic, flimsy and cheap.
I know it’s an expense, but an unprofessional-looking business card will cost you more.
No mobile number – I once needed a man with a van to help me move house but (strangely enough) I ended up giving my business to the man who actually answered his phone. If you’re not going to be at home to answer calls then your mobile number should be on your card or your home number should divert to your mobile.
When people call a VA, a straw has usually just broken and they want to speak to someone right now.
No clue as to who you are or what you do – There really is no point in having a business card if the person you give it to has to write your name and what you do for a living on it! Personally, I’d query the standard of a person’s work if they can’t even get their own business card right.
A note on data protection
Remember that it’s illegal to add the contact details of people you’ve met networking to an email client like MailChimp without their permission and you could be fined if they complain.
You are also liable if you send out newsletters for your client and they have done this.
Please read this blog post on Virtual Assistants and data protection to make sure you’re complying with all EU regulations because they apply even if you don’t live in the EU.
You can include your photo, address or social media information if you want to, but people simply want to know who you are, what you do and how to get hold of you.
They also need to have the impression that you’re a professional who delivers quality work and a business card can go a long way in creating that impression.
I’ve seen other errors like having a really cluttered card, tiny text, cards that are so big they don’t fit into card holders or wallets, or ones that have bits of old cards glued on the back (I’ve actually seen this), but these are some of the most common business card mistakes that could lose you business due to lack of information or general shonkyness.
There are some great deals out there if you shop around. Cards don’t always have to be expensive, but they do need to give the right impression. You can also have fun with them – I have a Pinterest board full of interesting business cards to inspire you.