This morning, I went through my backpack and threw out all the business cards I have collected. If I have met you in the last 5 years and you’ve never actally corrosponded with me, it may be that I no longer have your contact information.
Because they were just taking up space in my backpack. Some of them have been in there so long that they could no longer be read. One of them was just a paper with an email address scribbled on it.
Why did I have so many? Because at every conference and networking event I go to, people try to shove me their business cards. Sometimes I take them to be polite, and sometimes I take them because I’m genuinely interested in the person or what they do. In the end, though, if they never contact me and I don’t have an immidiate reason to contact them, the card just sits in a pile. I suppose I could transcribe them into my digital address book, but that takes work.
This is why I’ve never really had business cards and I don’t give them out. I have a simple string of characters, “singpolyma”, that I give out to anyone who asks. This string of characters will find my on almost any service, or on a web search. Then, if you actually want to connect with me about something, you can do so using the mechanism that makes the most sense.
Similarly, if I actually want to connect with you, I will probably write down why I want to connect and who you are on my phone. I may even initiate contact digitally (by adding you on IM or following on a microblogging service) while I’m still physically standing with you.
I’ve found that the really interesting people often keep popping up. I may stop taking business cards, or I may just clean out my backpack again in four more years, but I definitely won’t be giving out little waste scraps of cardboard any time soon.