what’s the deal with business cards?

A reader writes:

I’ve had a couple of jobs since I graduated college and in some of those jobs I’ve gotten business cards as part of the job. I worked part-time in retail and not gotten business cards, though I noticed that the managers (full-time, salaried employees) did have the company branded business cards. I worked for a university (full-time, salaried) and got the university branded business cards. In my current full time, salaried job I’m also getting company branded business cards.

Is there an unspoken policy/tradition on providing employees company branded business cards? Is it a company specific policy on who gets a company branded business card? Are companies obligated to provide business cards to their employees? And, if not, should the employee make their own business cards?

Whether or not you get business cards will vary by company and role. Some companies give them to everyone. Some companies give them only to senior people, or only to people whose roles put them in positions where they need them (like salespeople, or other employees who frequently meet with others outside the company). It’s less common, although not unheard of, for part-time retail positions, especially if you’re not at the management level. Some companies don’t do them at all anymore.

There’s no obligation to provide cards, although there are some jobs where it would be really strange not to have them.

Business cards are definitely less popular than they used to be, although there are still plenty of jobs that rely on them. And a lot of people who gets cards never really use them, particularly if they’re not in outside-meeting-heavy jobs and don’t do much networking where cards are exchanged.

As for making your own cards … if you have a work need for them, the first thing to do is to ask your company and explain why you need them. If it’s less of a work need and more just something you’d like to have, you can make your own. They shouldn’t be company-branded (nothing should be company-branded that your company hasn’t signed off on) but you can certainly make your own cards with your contact info and what you do.

{ 209 comments… read them below }

  1. Rolly*

    I made personal business cards when in grad school some years ago – my name, email address, phone number and website.

    Still use them to this day, though mainly socially – I’ll meet a parent at the playground and give them my card if they want to connect for a playdate or something.

    1. Eggo*

      Same. You can buy 500 on vistaprint for pretty cheap and they will last you years. I keep a bunch in my wallet, car, etc.

        1. A Beth*

          I love Canva! I do social media for my job (very minor presence) and it has made things so much easier and more polished. Great resource.

        2. Sleeve McQueen*

          If you’re going the Canva/VistaPrint route and don’t have design experience, my advice is to keep as close as possible to the original template, ie if a space has 4 words, don’t try to squeeze in 14, if you’re changing colours, keep to a colour palette. There are heaps of tools online (including in Canva) that lets you generate a colour palette based on your chosen colour. Keep to the same number of fonts etc

      1. Delta Delta*

        I got 500 business cards on vista print about 5 years ago. They didn’t turn out exactly how I wanted them, and now I’m stuck with approximately 300 business cards I don’t really like. But they were $9.99, so I’m not broken up about it. But I’m practical to a fault and it feels wasteful to buy new ones while I still have some. *insert eye roll emoji here*

        1. Zephy*

          My husband does luthier work and some custom carpentry – building and repairing instruments and cases/cabinets for them, that kind of thing. Mostly for friends and family, but even friends and family wanted to pay him for it, so at one point he was thinking about setting up an LLC. He ordered some cards off Vistaprint before actually legally establishing the company. That was basically right before the pandemic, which put a hell of a kibosh on live music of any kind so no one was out here breaking their instruments and thus needing his services, and we still get preselected credit card offers addressed to the company that doesn’t exist.

        2. Gladtoberetired*

          I used to use the backs of old business cards to make my own flash cards for my son in primary school. I guess I’m telling my age

      2. Professional Merchandiser, Retired*

        Yes!! Vistaprint makes great cards. When I was working as a merchandiser, I had business cards made for each company I worked for with company colors Not logos, I knew that was a no no. (I also had a generic set that just said “Professional Merchandiser” on them.) When my bosses came for a work-with I would give them one with the company name on them and they were always impressed. Said they wished the company would provide them to all employees,
        Also, when I first started doing this type work a lot of jobs were still applied for by mail. I would paperclip on my generic cards to the application, and every time I was called I received positive comments from the hiring managers. I also have a set of personal cards done in a fun color that have come in handy occasionally.

        1. Zellie*

          I love their mini cards. These are the ones I get when my employer doesn’t provide cards. In the past, people who received them always remembered me.

    2. Colette*

      Yeah, I also have personal business cards, and they are useful socially (“Here’s my email address!”) and whenever I’m dealing with a business where I want my name spelled properly.

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      Back in the day, a business card was different from a social card. The business card had your occupation and contact information. The social card had just your name. That was the card you gave to the butler when calling, which he would take to his boss and inquire whether they were in. If not, the card established that you had discharged any obligation you had to make the call.

      1. I-Away 8*

        Have you read the original edition of Etiquette by Emily Post published in 1922? The text is somewhere on the internet. Really fascinating to read, especially the chapter about cards and visits.

    4. Momma Bear*

      I made cards when my kid was small so she could just hand them out to friends to give to their parents so the families could connect.

      The only other time I made my own cards was during my time freelancing. Otherwise I just accepted (or asked for) cards from my company. Companies usually have realllllly specific guidelines (down to the Pantone color and font) so I would ask first. If you make personal cards, don’t use any company branding IMO.

      1. Rolly*

        They were super useful for me to give to other parents we met at playgrounds for playdates.

    1. Viki*

      My use of business cards has declined over the pandemic (there was no point in me having them in the first place, I’m internal and not cx facing but I digress)–however they make a good bookmark!

      1. CherryScary*

        Ooh there’s an idea! I got a ton when I first got hired in my current job – and then our company was squired two months later. I never had the chance to use them! (Still in my desk). Four years later, never got any for the new company, and I’ve never really needed them…

      2. FisherCat*

        We have a large stack of my spouse’s business cards at home (he was offered them by his employer but has a role without much demand for them, so as a result we still have probably 450 of the initial 500).

        I love using them as bookmarks because they’re useful, but also its a fun little “thinking of you” detail when he comes back from a work trip and sees newly opened books w/ his cards. And also my employer has never offered me any for my role so I can’t use my own for this purpose!

    2. Mel M*

      My work also gives me business cards that I have no use for. But in my case it’s because I have a long name and title so the marketing department uses me as a test every time they tweek the standard card design. Mostly I tuck them into my bags, sunglasses cases, and suitcases so there is a non-personal address and phone number in case they’re lost.

  2. Rolly*

    I used them at conferences when in grade school for networking – I was not representing my day-job (in a different field) where I also have cards.

      1. Christina*

        I was picturing a ten year old Alex Keaton from Family Ties handing out business cards on the playground.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          I figured, too, but still giggled at little you handing out cards in front of your science presentation.

  3. Witch*

    Our events team used to use business emails but honestly they recently phased them out because they’re pretty unnecessary. Anyone coming in to view our event space can just sign up their emails through a shared iPad and someone from the event team will reach out via email the next day.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Since I used to pass business cards along to my colleagues who would be interested, this wouldn’t be effective for me. I wouldn’t want the emails, but I would want to give the business cards to the people who actually managed our events.

  4. Lacey*

    I had business cards at one job. I literally never used them. They would print more up for me anytime our company branding changed and an entirely unopened box would get thrown in the trash.

    I think they’re helpful for sales people, recruitment, the C-suite, or freelancers. For most other jobs they’re kinda pointless, though there are probably some I’m not thinking of that also find them useful.

    1. Susan Calvin*

      That’s the worst! I’ve actually given out a couple dozen of my business cards over the last 6 years, because I do work with clients (although mostly the same ones over long stretches of time), but the way my product has been shuffled between different brands of the company, and naming conventions for my role have changed at least twice, I’ve gotten a new package of 200 several times…

    2. Aggresuko*

      Yeah, I never use my business cards either. I even got private ones with my contact info at moo.com for a (recreational, not work) conference activity and that’s the only time I’ve used them. Nobody uses them to contact you!

    3. Colette*

      I had business cards in my first post-university job. Before long, the only thing that hadn’t changed was my name and phone number – everything else (company name, email, fax, address) was different.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      When I was a trainer, I had them to give to trainees. It was handy if they needed to call in. Otherwise, they’d end up calling the main line & trying to get the receptionist to track me down when they often couldn’t remember my name. It was when cell phones were just getting common, & most people didn’t program a lot of numbers into their phones.

      I’ve seen business cards from law enforcement for people to follow up on police reports.

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      I did have business cards for one of my previous jobs where I ran registration for an annual conference. They were useful to give to anyone who had some kind of issue that needed post-event follow-up. I didn’t use them much on the other 363 days of the year, though.

    6. Koalafied*

      If you’re active in your professional field they’re super useful for conferences. Makes it super quick and non-awkward to exchange contact info with people you connected with and want to keep in touch with. I always liked to write a couple notes on the back of the card to jog my memory later with what we talked about and if there was anything I’d promised to send them or they would be sending me, etc. Trying to get out a phone and get into the Add Contact space and type out notes on that infernal touch screen is so much more of a hassle in the moment compared to good old business cards and a pen, though I would eventually load them into my phone/email contacts when I wasn’t in the middle of a social interaction.

      Really hated when business cards suddenly decided to become trendy 15 years ago and everyone started having two-sided cards, tiny cards, oddly shaped cards, cards with such thick gloss you can’t write on them. Gah! They’re supposed to be functional, not decorative!

      1. Lunch Ghost*

        I immediately thought of the guy at my work who’s a frequent speaker at conferences and goes through hundreds of business cards. I think anyone who comes to talk to him after his talks gets one.

    7. PlainJane*

      I feel like the boxes they tend to come in are WAY too large. But I do wish I had them because I do outreach, and using the generic card to leave my contact info with teachers… well, I might as well scribble my name and email on post-it, as far as the image goes.

    8. Bella*

      I had them because I used to host quality audits, so customer facing, even when I wasn’t the host when dealing with customers from e.g. Japan there was an expectation that people would have and accept with respect cards. I still had many not used cards.

  5. The Original K.*

    Like Rolly, I made my own when I was in grad school and used them pretty readily. I did freelance and contract work for a while and they came in handy then. Most of my full-time jobs have offered them; my current job has not. I’m not sure why but I’m not pressed about it.

  6. Jora Malli*

    In my organization, the people who have business cards are the ones who are responsible for community partnerships or receiving comments and complaints from the public.

    I’m customer facing, and we keep business cards for our in-building managers and our next level up at the central office so that if customers want something we can’t do for them, they can escalate their concern to someone who has more authority. I’m guessing it would probably be the same in retail.

  7. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

    I made my own to hand out at tech conferences when I started attending them regularly. They have my personal contact information on them (and no company branding) so I’ll be able to use them when I move on.

    When I started speaking at conferences, my work asked if I would like to have business cards, and I said yes. These do have my company contact information and their branding. (Of course, then Covid happened so I’ve got an entire box of them still back at my desk in the office…)

    In both cases, I’ll trade them around at conferences with people I’ve had interesting conversations with. We’ll generally connect on LinkedIn afterwards, and the business cards make it very easy to track who I had talked with.

  8. AM*

    My employer stopped ordering business cards for employees because it seems they aren’t used anymore, such as LinkedIn replacing the need for a card. Or at least they aren’t used for their intended purpose, such as just using them for frivolous things like raffles that ask for your business card to enter.

  9. Purple Cat*

    Our company just made a push for people to get whole new business cards and I really don’t understand the expense. Marketing – yes. Sales – of course. Director of Accounting that really doesn’t interact with outside people? Not so much.

    1. SuperBB*

      This. After we rebranded, we were asked to confirm our info for new cards, and someone asked why we were bothering with this waste of paper since even our client-facing teams rarely used them. The company decided not to move forward, and then we went into lockdown so any event or meeting where they might be needed went online. (I finally threw mine out last week. They had the wrong company name, job title, and address. The only accurate things were my name and the fax number.)

  10. Lydia*

    I use them. My job is outward facing and in government, so the people I serve need to know how to get in touch with me. I don’t use a lot of them. Most people know how to find me on our website and if they go to the wrong person, they get routed to me, so it’s not the only thing at my disposal, but it helps if I’m working with a new business.

    1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      DC and its environs seems to be a place where business cards are thriving. Between Congressional staffers, lobbyists, think tanks, embassies, etc. I would bet it has one of the highest business card uses per capita.

    2. PickleFish*

      I’m in government tax compliance. When I go out to visit someone, I hand them my business card. It verifies who I am without showing my ID badge (that looks very little like me and has an outdated title). I do some unannounced visits, too. I start those with my business card in hand.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Same, but environmental compliance and on the other side of the table (industry). I work with a lot of local agencies and groups and we all still do business cards, even vendors. I even still have a little binder for cards.

        Used to be gov’t compliance inspector and it was a requirement that we hand everyone we talked to a business card – same thing as for you, verified who we are and gave them quick contact info if they had questions or needed help. All of my visits (unless requested for compliance assistance) were unannounced.

        My husband though while issued business cards very, very rarely uses them. Except for the free meal fishbowls at restaurants.

  11. Christina*

    When my husband was voluntarily between jobs for a few months he had business cards made with the title “Gentleman Hobo” – they were actually more calling cards than business cards.

    1. VenusFlytrap*

      Ha, I did something similar when I went to my 10 year high school reunion and was unemployed. I had a graphic designer friend print me up some cards with my name, email, and Professional Killer as my title (the movie Gross Pointe Blank had semi-recently come out where John Cusack is a hit man and goes to his high school reunion and just straight up tells everyone his job is Professional Killer and they all think he’s joking.)

  12. Eldritch Office Worker*

    We just made the decision to retire them. No one really uses them anymore and everyone just ends up with stacks of them. I think it’s odd that no one uses them (consulting, seems like a common business card area) but that seems to be the consensus.

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I have to admit, I’ve always been a little bummed to have come of age in an era post-business-card.

      When I was a kid, characters in movies would say things like “here, take my card” and casually slide it across a table. SO mysterious and grown-up.

      When I started my first job in the mid-2000s and was given a stack of them, I was SO excited.

      I think I used one. Once.

      The adult world has not been as mysterious and grown-up as I was hoping it would be! LOL

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        As an aside, it is so funny to me what little kids get excited about re: adulthood. I was also really anxious to have a legitimate need for post-its (I used to make up needs for them all the time).

        1. Empress Matilda*

          Same, about the business cards! They always seemed SO COOL and grown up to me – and now that I actually am a grownup, I think I’ve used less than 50 of them in my entire career.

          The other thing for me was interoffice envelopes. I couldn’t wait to work somewhere that I could finally use them!

          1. LikesToSwear*

            I wish my office used interoffice envelopes. Instead, we use plain manila envelopes where the closure breaks after 4-5 uses and then you’re stuck using tape… they typically get thrown out far quicker than interoffice envelopes would.

        2. Koalafied*

          Reminds me of a tweet I saw a little while ago: “Growing up, ads for women’s products led me to believe that ‘going from day to night’ was going to be a big part of adulthood, but so far it hasn’t come up.”

          1. Bee*

            This comment is always really surprising to me because it was extremely common for me pre-pandemic! I’d go straight from the office to dinner/drinks/events at least once a week or so. Granted, I never really ~~changed my look any more drastically than putting on lipstick, but I did actually put a lot of thought into outfits that could go from the office to whatever I had in the evening. Maybe this is an urban thing? I live too far from my office to go home in between, and my friends are scattered all over the city, so it’s easiest to meet when we’re already all in lower Manhattan. (I also work in an arts industry, so there were a lot of professional-adjacent events to attend.)

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              I live in the city and we went from day to night prepandemic in terms of having after work activities but whatever we were wearing for work was always fine, whether it was a planned outing or not. I also have not put much-if-any thought to day to night wear.

            2. Koalafied*

              I think it’s reflecting how much dress codes have relaxed in the last 20-30 years. The overlap between “work clothes” and “cute clothes for going out” used to be much, much smaller and took a lot of intentional planning. We now have a much broader range of what’s considered office appropriate, and there’s been a major loosening of feminine beauty standards that give women a lot more casual options for going out and still looking nice.

    2. J*

      I’m tempted to just get a QR code keychain to take people directly to my LinkedIn (or a LinkTree page) so it’d be evergreen. Doesn’t solve the problem of wanting to make notes, though.

    1. Hailrobonia*

      I made a crude flip book of Pac Man eating dots with a bunch of my old business cards held together with a binder clip.

    2. JustaTech*

      I use my old ones (previous job, previous titles) for bookmarks.
      Now my company makes you ask for business cards, and put in a reason why you need them, *and* only orders 50 unless you’re in Sales.
      Which is perfectly reasonable – the only reason I need to order new ones is I got promoted and I want to have my correct title if I go to a conference.

  13. Ray Gillette*

    My company recently attempted to make the switch to using a “digital business card” app. Apparently the Zoom integration is terrible. I haven’t tried to use it yet.

    1. Rolly*

      I actually designed my organization’s cards for a number of year, and a bit over 10 years ago we had a QR code on the back of our codes which would load contact info into a smartphone that scanned them. QR codes were pretty new in the US, so the the uptake on that was poor. I think if we had them now – with more people use to scanning QR codes such as for menus at restaurants – it would work better. I was ahead of times.

  14. Dust Bunny*

    We all have them and I carry a few on the off chance I ever need to hand one out, but it’s been over 15 years and I never have. Unless they change the design this box will last me my whole career.

  15. J*

    We don’t use them at my company, with one exception: Travel. We have a site in India, and apparently they’re much more common over there to the point where if you tell customs you’re travelling for business they’ll ask for your card and think it’s suspicious if you don’t have one. I’ve had coworkers make up and order a stack of them just for their travel.

    1. CC*

      I think I’ve only given out a couple, but having a business card in my wallet helped me on a trip once. I was making a trip to the US with unusual travel arrangements (flight home was already booked but I didn’t have the ticket on me, but flight in couldn’t be booked until I hit the airport because the previous connecting flight was private and subject to weather delays that could last days. The joys of working in the arctic!) so there I was with a one-way ticket into the US and being grilled about it at customs. It was pretty clear they thought I was trying to get in and stay without a visa. Business card with “engineer” in the title and from the same city as my ID managed to convince them that I actually did have ties to Canada with a good job, and was not trying to pull anything.

      And of course I couldn’t say what I really thought of staying in the US, because you don’t say that when trying to enter…

  16. Junior Assistant Peon*

    They’re not obsolete yet! I organize my business card collection alphabetically by company, so it’s a great way to quickly look up which contacts I have at Company X. I strongly recommend getting those plastic 3-ring binder sleeves and organizing your business card collection early in your career before you accumulate too many. Writing a few notes on the back of the card about the date and place you met the person is helpful when you have a reason to reach out a few years later and can remind the person of where you met. A lot of people use their personal rather than work email in their LinkedIn profile (which is a smart thing to do since you could suddenly lose access to your work email in the event of an unexpected layoff), so a business card is a great way to find a contact’s work email address.

    1. anonymous73*

      That’s still very specific to certain types of jobs. I have never once in my 27 year career accumulated enough business cards to need a binder to organize them in.

    2. Ramen Anonymous*

      Oh, how this takes me back! When I worked in Japan everyone in a sales or client focused role had a binder of business cards in clear pockets on their desk. It was their version of a rolodex. My first job literally trained new employees in the elaborate etiquette of giving, receiving, and handling business cards. Nowadays those suckers are full of ‘personal information’ (names and contact info) so they’re required to be kept under lock and key!

  17. pierrot*

    I have also worked part time in retail and the only people who had business cards were the store leader and the assistant manager. This is how it should be at the majority of retail environments in my opinion- a person who’s not a manager and very likely underpaid shouldn’t have the added responsibility of being the point of contact for customers. I had business cards when I was working as a case manager so that clients and my contacts at other organizations would have my info.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I have gotten business cards at more high-end retail stores where I assume the salespeople make a commission. And where customers might not be buying something the same day they start shopping.

  18. Maggie*

    I worked a more sales heavy job before and had personalized business cards, I still do lots of vendor related communication but very few are in the same city as us so I wouldn’t use business cards the way I did before. What my current work has is generic company business cards (main phone line, address and info@ email address). If I’m giving them to someone I will often write my email on it (just firstname@companyname.com) but if it’s rushed and I don’t they have our generic company info and it’s a small enough business that I’ll see anything meant for me

  19. Silicon Valley Girl*

    For years, the companies I worked at (big tech; my jobs have not been sales or very outward facing) automatically ordered a box of business cards for each new employee. And then … it faded away! For the past decade-ish, no business cards. Sometimes they’re reserved for only the sales department or sometimes they’re available but you have to request them in some slightly complicated way or demonstrate a need, which is too much of a hassle for me. I only used a handful a year when I’d attend conferences, so it’s no real problem to do without now. Definitely a YMMV thing.

  20. Mischief Managed*

    All of my jobs so far have provided cards as a standard. For my first job I only used them to win free stuff. In my current job I had them out regularly and it’s the industry standard. I think they’re best used for winning free food though.

  21. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    I have a public facing job, and usually used my cards as a way to share my correctly spelled email address.

    However, I do encourage anyone who is doing job search to make sure that their job search emails (presumably from their personal email account, of course) have a signature block that is equivalent to the content of a business card/ networking card. All of the contact info, the “job title(s)” they’re aiming for, and social media links.
    Makes it easier for someone to reach out in whatever way makes sense without having to open up the attached resume etc.

  22. Mia*

    Digital business cards are awesome… Tap it to a contacts phone and it automatically populates your information into their contacts or designated file. No cards to keep up with, no paper waste. Cost savings: Most of them will produce your info card around $20.

  23. STG*

    In my department (IT in government), anybody in a position that attends conferences would receive business cards by default. That’s most of my team except my entry level techs.

  24. Shiba Dad*

    I do not currently have business cards. I’ve been in this position a little over three years. I don’t have much need for them. There have been one or two occasions where I got funny looks when I said that I didn’t have a business card.

    At my previous job they ordered me a box of them. I did give them out on occasion, but I bet over 90% of them went unused.

    Job before that I did give them out much more frequently as I did a lot of end-user training. Originally batches of them were printed in office, then when we were bought out New Company had them professionally printed.

    Before that I sold cars, so we obviously had business cards. With high turnover there were a lot of unused business cards from old employees, so new employees were given these cards so they could white-out that person’s name and write their own on the card.

  25. Salad Daisy*

    The manager of my team could have gotten everyone business cards but they chose to only get them for their friends. So I did not get business cards, while X, who was a friend of the manager, did. X and I had the exact same job and I had actually been with the company longer.

  26. Fourth and Inches*

    For context, I’m a scientist. In previous roles, I was expected to attend conferences, meetings, and networking events in the scientific community and I was provided with business cards by my company/school for these types of events. My newest role is very much internal. I’m not expected to travel or attend conferences, so I haven’t been given business cards. But I was told if I wanted to start going to relevant conferences post-Covid that I can request business cards for that purpose.

  27. Observer*

    OP, I’m curious. What would be a reason why companies would have an obligation to give people business cards? I mean obviously, if someone actually NEEDS cards to effectively do their job, the organization should provide them, just as they provide any other work relevant items. But your question seems to encompass staff in general. And I’m really interested in the thinking here.

    As for whether you should make your own cards, again the question is why. If it’s to do your job, then I agree with Alison that you should ask your employer. Otherwise, there really is no “should”. If you think you will benefit from having a card, go for it. Otherwise, don’t waste the time or money.

    1. Rolly*

      If a lot of people need them, it might make sense to just order them for everyone – both from a process standpoint and also for morale. Rather than not giving them in a small portion of the staff. Printing cards can be very cheap, and if ordering them is integrated with other onboarding systems, it’s no big deal and perhaps better than spending energy trying to decide if a person will use them.

      1. doreen*

        Who exactly do you mean by “everyone” ? At my last two employers, most people in the areas I worked in were provided with business cards – but that’s because most people had outside contacts. It didn’t really take any energy to decide that people without outside contacts didn’t need business cards and it wouldn’t have improved morale if the clerks and secretaries had been provided with business cards.

        1. Smithy*

          I think the “everyone” might largely depend on the size of the employer/nature of the work, but in my case I think that approach would have been helpful had it been applied to my team if not the entire organization.

          I’m in private institutional fundraising, an external facing job that will often include going to conferences or other networking opportunities where having a card is helpful. I’d still say declining in use, but a regular enough feature in the job at least pre-COVID. On the team where I used them most, there was a strange dynamic around who did and didn’t have them. Senior leadership would have said it was around “need”, but ended up being a far weirder seniority/who you know dynamic that was not helpful. Had ordering business cards been standard for everyone in an external role on our team (which was most of us) and included with general onboarding, it would have been helpful. Instead it ended up as a weird marker of whether the external work of junior colleagues was valued more or less – whether true or not.

          Sure, we worked for a nonprofit – so getting business cards for all staff willy nilly would have been a silly expense. Having a business case made sense. But I just think there are limits to usefulness of making a business case for every single order when there are wider groups where a case can be made.

      2. Kippy*

        I’m pretty sure this is why I got business cards at my first job post-college. I was a junior paralegal, rarely interacted with people outside of my firm, and didn’t really need them – I probably only used five in the ten years I worked there – but the attorneys needed them and the senior/trial paralegals needed them, so why not get them for everyone? Who wanted to decide which paralegals “deserved” them and start a whole issue. Plus my one box of cards only cost $10 or so. Our firm spent enough money with the copy/printing companies (this was during the rise of email and “going digital” so a lot of discovery was still done in hard copy or we’d get boxes of papers that would need to be scanned in or have to send out larger copy jobs) my one box of cards would barely register in the total spent that month at Big Copy.

      3. InASuit*

        What Rolly said.

        If you’re ordering a lot of business cards, the cost of getting cards for a few extra people is trivial.

        And it avoids so much aggravation.

    2. UKDancer*

      Yes. My company gives them to people who need them but not to everyone. I find them useful internationally when meeting colleagues in other countries because some countries place more store by them and at conferences where I’m likely to be speaking to unfamiliar people. Also useful for prize draws at conferences and trade fairs.

      But you need to be in a job which needs them so people doing outward facing work get them but people like the technical support team mostly don’t because they don’t need it and we know who they are.

    3. IEanon*

      You would think they’d provide them! Back when I was a grad assistant overseeing language assessments (scheduling, ordering and proctoring), I requested business cards with my email, proctoring hours and list of available exams.

      University said nope, not a real employee, and I continued writing out all the details by hand to the dozens of undergrads who showed up every day looking to register (couldn’t have a page on the website, either). I was too cheap/broke to order my own and it always burned me a little bit that they wouldn’t bend the rules to help me facilitate this.

      Come to find out, it’s $5 for a box of 500 at my first post-grad job, and I’ve been even more upset about it ever since.

      My current role absolutely requires me to have cards for all the reasons listed by other commenters: conferences, international networking/travel, handing them out to recruiters, etc.

      1. Cpt Morgan*

        LW said they did get them… except as a part-timer working retail.

        Why would a part-time cashier or cart pusher or whatever need business cards?

    4. Amy*

      OP here. I thought it was one of those perks of having a full time position that everybody knows but nobody talks about. When I started my first full time job I was given business cards within the first few days. My current job (which tbh started during the lockdown) I wasn’t given business cards in the first couple days and the topic only came up recently because I’m going to a conference in May.

      As for making your own cards, I figured that if the company didn’t have the resources but you still wanted to have some kind of contact/business card that you should make your own.

      1. Observer*

        Yeah, it doesn’t really work that way. Now, if you’re working for a reasonable company it shouldn’t be a big deal. Like in this case, you’re going to a conference, so if they are sensible all you need to do is ask for them however that process works in your organization. If they are not sensible…. As you can see that can get quite weird.

    5. londonedit*

      I’ve been working in book publishing for nearly 20 years and the only people I’ve worked with who have had business cards have been the senior commissioning editors/publishers/bosses/people at a senior sort of level. They’re the ones who would be meeting authors and agents, going to rights fairs, etc, so it makes sense. As a desk editor who doesn’t do any of that meet-and-greet stuff, it doesn’t make sense for me to have a business card.

      When I was freelance I got some simple but quirky business cards made (little square ones from Moo with a funky patterned design on the back) because I would go to industry events fairly regularly and it was always good to be able to pass on my contact details to people who worked in-house and might be on the lookout for new freelance editors. But now I’m back in-house and the only authors and agents I come into contact with are people whose books we’re already working on, I have no need for business cards (even pre-Covid).

  28. Zan Shin*

    As a hospital direct care RN, no cards. As a hospital.discharge planning nurse, and in all home health/community health positions business cards provided by employer were essential to my role (leave on patient fridge, give to family, give to vendors, give to county social services, etc).
    As an individual, we had cards printed (Vistaprint) with photo of our new home when we relocated to make it easier for friends and family. I also use Vistaprint for my visual arts business card, minus the home photo and address.

    1. Squidhead*

      Yeah, I’m a bedside RN and I don’t have cards but the hospital makes them for the nurse managers to give out as a resource for families, and the individual units (ICU, Med/Surg, Children’s Hospital all have several units with similar names) also have them. I give these out to families all the time so the family doesn’t have to go through the switchboard to reach us, but I usually write it again in marker on the back because the font is so small!

  29. a question*

    I feel old fashioned saying this, but I love using business cards. Don’t get me wrong I have all my contacts in some digital format but I am always forgetting to charge my phone so it’s nice to have a quick reference when needed. I also find that business cards have those little gems of businesses that maybe don’t have as huge of an online presence. Just me but I prefer both digital and physical business cards.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Agreed! I come from a family that likes to patronize small, local businesses & artisans. So many gifts I receive come with a business card for the seller. And it’s handy, because people ask me where I got these items all the time.

  30. Reese*

    We provide them to people with public facing positions but not most internal facing. But our marketing department would flip out if people went about making their own if they had any company branding on them. We are a “branch” of a large, very well known company though with very strict branding standards. One of our marketing department’s key accountabilities is to ensure that we are all following the brand guidelines set forth by the national org. Homemade business cards would definitely not fly.

    1. Dragonfly7*

      That’s DEFINITELY very important to follow. When I make mine, they have my name, title, work email, organization’s name, and our website URL, and I choose a plain design that doesn’t include our branding colors.

      1. Rolly*

        Making your own cards even very plain is a reflection on brand colors – an official public facing object (that often has colors) produced w/o any colors implies the brand’s colors are black and white. This seems very unwise.

        1. Dragonfly7*

          Interesting! Without a background in marketing, that isn’t assumption I would think to make.

          1. Rolly*

            Paul Watzlawick’s first axiom of communications is “One cannot *not* communicate.”

            A white card with black text in Arial implies that either those are the brand’s colors and font, or the brand does not care how it appears (which is a message in itself).

            1. Dragonfly7*

              That I’m not a level of person who they will give business cards is also a message in itself.

    2. Other*

      Yeah… you want to make personal cards, that’s great, but Communications would flip if you made any indicating your company position, company name, and/or company contact info. Even if it is plain.

  31. Dragonfly7*

    In my higher ed department, managers on up can get them, and we do give them out fairly often. I print my own for conferences. I wish I could order them in smaller batches, like 50-100, so not so many are wasted if my email address or something else changes. The default seems to be 200-250. Know anywhere I can do that?
    Advice for others ordering their own: please get them with a matte finish. I like to take notes about our conversation, things to follow up on, etc on the back when I meet someone I want to reach out to again.

    1. Christmas Carol*

      Just checked on line. You can purchase a package of “business card paper” sheets of 10 cards (2 columns of 5) Found packages as small as 10 sheets = 100 cards total for 5 bucks. The template works just like a mailing label template in your word processor. Develop a card design, and print off as little as 1 sheet at at time = 10 cards on your computer printer, and you can change info as often as you want

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        You can also just use plain, unscored cardstock if you’re handy with a paper cutter. Use one of the business card templates to get things spaced correctly, but then just cut and trim them yourself. I used to make myself business cards this way a few sheets at a time, since I really didn’t need a whole box of business cards, just enough to give out at whatever-event, and work already had a paper cutter, laser printer, and cardstock available to me. (For personal use, this is also something I’ve done at places like Kinkos – bring in the file I want as a pdf on a thumbdrive and then just run it on regular cardstock and take it home to cut rather than pay them to do it. There have been a fair amount of times in my life when I could see needing more than 1 but fewer than 10 “personal” business cards that year, so a single sheet of cardstock keeps both prices and storage needs down.)

        1. Rolly*

          I had 250 or 500 cards made by a place like Vistaprint 10 or so years ago and they look far better than what could run through a laser printer and cut well on a paper cutter. About $30ish? The box of 250 cards is not big to store. Yes, it’s too many, but they look really good. I’ll use them for another 10 years or more.

  32. bubbleon*

    I was probably given 1000 over my time at LastJob and only ever used them in deli fishbowls and one year as the gift tags on christmas presents to family. I never gave them to clients/vendors and never got them from ours so they just collected dust and I ended up throwing away like 5 boxes of them with various titles when I left. Newjob doesn’t use them at all.

  33. Rosie*

    I’ve had personal business cards for my writing for awhile now that I’d give out at conventions and stuff but this current position (mid-senior position) is the first dayjob where I’ve had them. I recently added on some more client facing work to my duties and they’re finally getting used but the box sat untouched in my office for the first 8 months of this job.

  34. GreenDoor*

    If I may, I will add my business card pet peeve. My company puts the standard contact info/logo on the front….and then for some asinine reason, put our mission statement and a full color image on the back. In glossy print.

    The whole beauty of the business card is that I get your info on the front….and then either you or I can write a quick note or joke or other reference on the back to jog our memory of where we met. For anyone contemplating making business cards, for the love of Pete, please leave the back blank!!

    1. Momma Bear*

      I worked for a company that did this and I disliked it for the same reasons. It looked cool, but if you can’t write on it…?

  35. Frideag Dachaigh*

    In my industry, braille business cards are fairly common, but about 90% of the time, we’re giving them to people who have never seen a braille card before/are unfamiliar with the industry. So most of the cases where someone’s taken my card, it’s because of the novelty of it- and even it has not been all that frequent. My mom got her hands on a stash of mine that she hands out to people who have no need to contact me, but mainly because she and her friends thinks its neat. It’s important for our work to have them be accessible for people who need the braille, and it does a good job of reminding people of the importance of making things accessible. Wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for everyone though- it’s a lot more expensive, and the vast majority of people who are blind/visually impaired don’t know or routinely use braille. But it’s a pretty awesome thing to have.

    1. OxfordCommaEnthusiast*

      Agree it’s important to consider people with different abilities…braille formats and QR codes can be very helpful as not only do they have a broader reach but they signal to others that you value accessibility. Business cards are also particularly important in some cultures and can be part of a meeting protocol. In the past I’ve also had bilingual business cards. For those who see no use for cards please think about who you might be excluding.

  36. AstridInfinitum*

    I once had a box full of business cards with the wrong information on them. They were useless, so I took them home and built a tiny card city out of them in my fire pit. Then I lit it on fire. There were sparklers involved. Bacon-wrapped s’mores were part of the evening as well.

    I have also never, ever had to order MORE business cards after the first bunch were ordered. I don’t do as much networking as others, I guess.

    1. Just another queer reader*

      This sounds awesome. I want to be your friend and have pyro parties together.

    2. SpeechTeach*

      I, too, ended up with some business cards that were fundamentally useless for business. I’ve repurposed them into tiny notecards for outlining writing projects.

  37. current_grad_student*

    I’m seeing a lot of people mention they had business cards for networking while in grad school – as a current grad student should I consider getting some? A few of my conferences are going to be back in person this year and I am hoping I will get to meet new people in my field there. Any advice for what to include on the cards?

    1. Prof Ma'am*

      I think it’s a really good idea for technical conference networking, especially when you start looking for postdocs or jobs. I don’t have great advice on what to put in the card (ok maybe one… consider having your personal email address, not your .edu so they can still reach you after you leave) but I will say that the best advice I can give is when you GET cards at these conferences to IMMEDIATELY write on the back a few quick notes so you remember the context for meeting that person. Include the date, the conference, and why you chatted (e.g. talked after my presentation or research group for future postoc). Academic networking is playing the long game and it’s easy to forget why you got someone’s card!

      1. current_grad_student*

        Thank you for the advice! Writing a note is such a great idea, it leads into writing a nice personal follow up email.

    2. Dragonfly7*

      For personal cards, I had my name, a business appropriate email address, a short URL for a website with relevant experience and education on it, and a social media username if it was one I primarily used for that field. Maybe also “Grad School Degree Type Student, Class of XXXX?” Example: University of Ohio MBA Student, Class of 2023. That’s something I think I should have included but didn’t.

    3. Rolly*

      I was in library school and my cards had a dark background on both sides, with white text – not good to write on but looked great. Vertical orientation. Name, email, phone and website on one side. A very small recycled paper logo on the other. They seriously popped visually. I considered having the back side be white to make it easier to write on, but the visual impact would be less.

      If I had wanted to emphasize being a student I would have gone another route and tried to make them look like cards our professors had, with MLIS candidate as the “job title.”

    4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Idea just gleaned from another commenter: a QR code on the back for those who don’t want to accumulated bits of card.
      Otherwise, name, number email address website username on whatever social media might be all the rage in your industry.
      And maybe, especially if you want to set up your own business, some kind of logo or motto or slogan to help you stand out. I put “Creative flair in translation” and a creative equivalent in French (“Traduire avec panache”) because that best sums up my approach to my job and shows that I do indeed use panache and flair in my work. I put the same in my email signature and people have commented.

      One client asked me where I got the idea for the French version and they were tickled pink when I explained that it was a rare example of a translation that’s better than the original: in Toy Story, when Buzz demonstrates how he flies, Woody sneers in English that “that’s not flying, it’s falling with style” but in French he sneers “ça c’est pas voler, c’est tomber avec panache”. I saw the French version first, and wondered what the English original could possibly have been. Then when we got the video in English for the kids, I at last found out, and was disappointed. I think the story demonstrates how important translation is to me!

  38. Sunrise Ruby*

    I was a program assistant at a small nonprofit from 2006 – 2009, the only job I’ve ever held where I was issued a box of business cards even though I rarely used them. I have to confess that when I opened that box, I felt like Navin Johnson in “The Jerk”, who told his boss “I’m somebody now! I’m in print! Things are going to start happening to me now” after he opened the newly published phone book and found his name.

    1. AGD*

      Same. At my first job after grad school, I insisted on getting a box of business cards because they made me feel like a real adult (and because they were useful for networking). Subsequent jobs: meh, never bothered.

  39. Just another queer reader*

    I love my business cards!

    I occasionally use them for work, but mostly I use them for networking. I’m a leader with my company’s LGBTQ network, and business cards are great when I meet counterparts and partners who I want to stay in touch with.

    My friends say that one of my talents is networking at Pride while covered in glitter and honestly, it’s true.

  40. anonymous73*

    Definitely depends on the role. I got business cards for my first few jobs and the only thing I used them for was to enter “win lunch” contests at local eateries. I don’t recall ever handing them out in any type of business setting.

  41. SpeechTeach*

    I’ve added a QR code to the back of mine with my contact details because I’ve encountered people who don’t like collecting little bits of paper. They scan the card and have the information on their phone.

    1. Rolly*

      I did that when I designed my company’s cards about 10 years ago. At that time QR codes were not so common in my country (the US), so it didn’t really work well, but I did see the head of a multi-billion dollar company in another country scan my CEO’s card into her phone, which pretty much made my year in terms of design accomplishments.

  42. Anastasia*

    Something I’ve found interesting in the industry I’m in (a particularly small and niche sector of the entertainment industry) is that business cards have largely been replaced by just exchanging social media handles, pulling out your phones, and following each other right there. I’m sure this isn’t the case for all industries—mine is one that happens to be particularly congregated around Twitter—but it’s definitely something I’ve noticed in mine.

  43. SpeechTeach*

    I, too, ended up with some business cards that were fundamentally useless for business. I’ve repurposed them into tiny notecards for outlining writing projects.

  44. Koala dreams*

    I’ve seen some social/business cards that people ordered for themselves. It could be a social card without reference to their profession that double as business cards, or a business card with their line of work but without a company logo. For example: XX, piano teacher, contact info.

    I agree with the advice to keep it minimalistic and not put photos or glossy pictures on them, if you go that route.

    My impression is that it was more common for companies to order business cards before everyone had a smart phone. With a smartphone, it’s more convenient to put contact info directly into the phone and skip the business card.

  45. anone*

    I created my own cards as a consultant, though I looked around to find a printer who would do a small-scale run because honestly even when you have an actual use for them, it’s hard to get rid of 500 of them (and I wasn’t sure if my business name/branding would need to shift because this was when my business first started. I found them very helpful at the time and always had a few stashed in every bag or jacket just because I never knew when I might need to give one to someone, but since the pandemic I haven’t used them at all and I’m not sure if I will do another print-run any time soon even though I was getting close to being out of them before the pandemic.

    I knew one consultant who took a more eco-friendly approach. Hers were printed on recycled tire rubber and were actually meant to double as coasters. I never used it as such–it was unfortunately kind of ugly, but also sort of practical? Except being coaster-sized also meant not being practical for wallets. Compostable might be more of the way to go if you’re trying to reduce paper waste.

  46. faintofheartt*

    Best use for business cards (besides free lunch drawings and happy hours): giving them to police or other drivers when involved in or witnessing a car accident! It’s so much nicer to be able to hand off a card than having to scribble down all of your contact info!

  47. filosofickle*

    I freelanced for a long time so I’ve always had some form of cards. One of my recurring anxiety dreams is I need to give my card to someone, and I keep going over and over the cards in my wallet but all of them are old and wrong. I have the dumbest anxiety dreams.

  48. C in the Hood*

    I had a coworker who had to conduct a transaction in Japan. According to him, there apparently was some kind of highly-regarded tradition regarding the exchange of business cards there. Of course, that was pre-Covid, so I don’t know if that’s changed.

    1. Suz*

      There’s a specific etiquette around exchanging cards in China too. When I went to Beijing for my previous job I had to learn it. I also had cards that were printed in English on one side and Chinese on the other.

    2. filosofickle*

      The way I was taught was to present the card with both hands (thumb and forefinger on two corners) and slightly nod/bow your head. When they give you theirs, don’t just put it away, take a thoughtful moment to read it and acknowledge.

  49. A lawyer*

    I made some before studying abroad in Japan, because business card culture is A Thing there, or so I was told. It just had my name and email address. I gave some to fellow classmates and some to random people I would meet in a bar or whatever. In retrospect I don’t think I needed them, as Japanese people generally seem give foreigners a pass when you fail to follow the norm.

    1. Rolly*

      I exchanged business cards with the head of Toyota and also with a Japanese politician who later become prime minister. Bilingual cards i designed myself with English on one side and Japanese on the other. At the time I think even if foreigner were not expected to have cards, it made a good impression.

    2. Nanani*

      I don’t know if you know, but this made you look very silly.
      At best, like a foreigner who didn’t really get it, and at worst, like you were trying to uh, solicit business in a very old profession.

      Japanese employers give new business cards to hires on day 1, and then a new batch any time your job changes titles, possibly more often. Even if your position isn’t client facing.

      1. A lawyer*

        I mean, I was a foreigner and a student, so I got very used to just looking stupid constantly.

  50. Abbey*

    Business cards have always only been created upon request at the companies I’ve worked for. Some people feel very strongly about them, but at least in Tech, they’re definitely dying out. In the two places where I fielded those requests, I’d get one person asking maybe every six months.

  51. fifteen minutes of indiscriminate screeching*

    When I was in grad school and networking for a job in [sport] I presented at a conference where my “business cards” were my contact info washi-taped onto the back of [sport] cards I’d collected and didn’t want anymore – they were a HUGE hit, I ran out by lunch on the first day of the conference.

  52. CarCarJabar*

    I’ve had 3 full boxes of business cards for my current position- 1 when I was hired, 1 after I married and changed my name, 1 after we moved office locations….. I have given out exactly 1 of them- to my husband.

    Every time Admin ordered new cards, I asked them NOT to order me any, but alas, they were ordered ‘just in case’….

  53. Sharon*

    I work in tech. One of my previous companies, about 10 years ago, gave me a box of business cards. The one (1) time I found a use for one was in a noisy restaurant with my hard-of-hearing grandfather, who wanted to know where I was working now.

    The rest eventually got thrown out.

  54. Sarra N. Dipity*

    The best use I’ve found for business cards is when a store/restaurant near my office has a “put your card in and win a free lunch/donut/water bottle” jar. I don’t think I’ve ever given a business card to a business contact.

  55. What She Said*

    I’ve had them on and off in my current company depending on my role. I am no longer in a position where I would need to give one out so I just let my last batch run out. If I wanted cards again they would give me some but it’s not worth it to me and I hate having the clutter in my desk.

  56. LemonLyman*

    I don’t use business cards now (I work in higher ed) but when I was much younger and substitute teaching in k-12, I made business cards to leave for the classroom teacher I was subbing for. That way, if they liked my work with the kids, they could have my name and contact info + sub code to request me again. I was told the business cards were well received and would often be asked by neighboring classroom teachers for my card.

    This was in the early-to-mid-2000s, before texting and social media was so widespread (texting was a thing but no iMessage bc no iPhone yet and you usually had a max on how many texts you could send a month). If I were doing this now I’d include a number where they could text me plus my “professional” social media accounts if they wanted to DM or follow me.

  57. not in academia but i know some folks*

    I have business cards but I’m not really public facing at all. I gave a few to folks when I onboarded them, but now I just say “if you need anything, reach out on Gchat or email” because it felt silly not to.

  58. MCMonkeyBean*

    I would agree they are overall far less common in general–the only time I have personally encountered business cards in the last like 10 years is actually for artists at like conventions and festivals so if you like their stuff but aren’t prepared to buy anything on the spot they will have a card with their Instagram account or something. (I actually just bought a bunch of stuff this past valentine’s day from an artist I started following on Insta after I took their card at a con!)

    At my company only managers and above get them, and even that is probably less common than it used to be and probably only if they request it rather than being automatically provided.

    I did make my own one time when a group of us were sent to a nearby college for a recruiting event. I told my manager I planned to and just put my name, title and contact info in case any of the students asked for it to reach out with questions. Other than that there is no reason I would ever have needed a card. Other than maybe one of those “drop your business card in to win a free lunch” things some restaurants seem to have out lol.

  59. Azure Jane Lunatic*

    I had some apprehension about ordering a whole thing of cards and then wanting or needing to change the design/information, so I took a creative route.

    There are self-inking stamps that work like a miniature printing press (a little box of rubber letters, and a place to squish them into the bottom of the stamp) and I was able to set up all the personal information that I found myself wanting to hand out to new friends at social events. Then I sliced up some index cards and stamped my information on the blank side, about as many as I thought I’d need.

    It worked so well for me (it read as practical, individual, and quirky) that I got a second stamp to list my professional contact information and high level skills when it came time to network for job search. I used different colors of note card for each one so I would not get them mixed up, and found a two-sided business card case to contain them.

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I’m wondering how pro that could look, I’m pretty sure I’d make a right mess of it.
      But if it’s possible to achieve a smart sleek look, I’d be interested. I had cards made, but then changed my pro address, and now that I’m about to launch a website, that’s extra info I should be adding. I’m wondering whether to stick the website address on the back.

      Then again, I’ve only twice used the business cards as intended in five years so…

  60. Claritza*

    I have to say I was skeptical when a front desk employee for a highly recommended, new to me health professional handed me a business card with the person’s last misspelled!

  61. Lobsterman*

    I have personal business cards that I had made from a popular internet vendor. They work great – good for meeting new friends or entering the lunch draw at the local eatery.

  62. Zephy*

    Business cards still make sense in a public-facing customer service or sales-type role. I actually got a new box of 500 business cards literally the day before we all went 100% remote at the start of the pandemic, funnily enough (they had us back in-office full time before the end of 2020, I don’t want to talk about it). My last job before this I also had business cards, and they even had spaces printed on the back for us to write in our schedules so the client knew when to come back if they wanted to continue working with us. Which, as I type that out now, is actually a really effed up system, but I guess the nature of the work didn’t really lend itself to like, making appointments or whatever. I wonder how they managed during the height of the pandemic.

  63. Helvetica*

    In my field – diplomacy – business cards are standard. It’s great for getting people’s names immediately and knowing how they are spelled and confirming how what you heard is written, especially since I interact mainly with representatives of countries other than mine and since I often have not seen anyone else’s name written out before. Super useful in my specific circumstances but I agree, they make less sense for other fields of work. Also, it takes some time to get used to having them, remembering to offer them and do so gracefully and smoothly and now that I am having more face-to-face meetings, I find that the past two years have left my skills rusty.

  64. DiplomaJill*

    My digital agency got off size business cards with our photos on them. No one appreciated my “what are we, Realtors?” joke when they debuted the new card design either, lol. I hate them and have never given a single one out in 5+ years at this company.

    1. Rolly*

      “I hate them and have never given a single one out in 5+ years at this company.”

      And you’re proud of that? Does anyone use them?

  65. Cthulhu's Librarian*

    I find business cards invaluable, especially when they’re finished with a high gloss or wax – a lot of the reference services work we do in my library is done on an appointment basis with people, and a (non-gloss) business card provides a handy way for me to write down their appointment time on the back, and leave them with contact information as well, in case they need to cancel or change appointments.

  66. Anon Oldster*

    I’m retired now but I had several hundred cards from my last long term job. The first batch was useless when the area code changed a year after I started. The second batch became obsolete when we changed our logo. I still have a few hundred from the last batch and souvenir amounts from the first. Never used them much professionally.

    I find that business cards are a handy size for cleaning weed on a tray.

    For other people’s cards, I find them useful for contractors, craft artisans, gardeners, doctors. Not so much regular businesses. They are perfect for tracking down that person who reupholsters furniture that you met at the antique fair.

  67. Sarah*

    I have them and use them regularly, but the 1 box they ordered for me has lasted 3 years so far. I go to a lot of conferences, do a lot of industry meetings, and work with a lot of 3rd party companies. IMO companies should be pretty liberal in who they allow to get them. They’re about $30 a box, but one good network connection could make or save a company millions. You’d hate to loose out on that because they didn’t have your email address.

  68. LittleMarshmallow*

    Most people in “professional” job bands have them by us. I’ve never used more than like 20 from every pack of 500 I’ve ever been given (I get a new box for most job title changes… I didn’t take on on my last promotion because my contact info is still the same and it feels wasteful). In the role I’m in, I definitely rely on them from vendors (think like tradesmen)… I don’t give them one unless they ask though (mostly cuz I’d have to go to my desk for them). We have our admin put them in a spreadsheet and then they usually go in the shared Rolodex (yes… we still have a Rolodex).

  69. Retired (but not really)*

    When working retail at festivals, company business cards are great for giving to customers who aren’t purchasing today but you hope will do so in the future. They are especially handy for writing on the back the particular items they were interested in purchasing. They are also handy for writing on the back what time to expect a custom order to be ready to pick up. And as a person on the sales floor it was handy for me to have a generic price list on the back of mine – ie m size $a ea/2 for $b, y size $d/3 for $e, z item get free whatever with xx qty.
    And of course if the person doesn’t want a card they can just take a picture of it.

  70. Alchemist*

    At a previous job, we did not have job titles. You could basically make up your own and never get called on it. So I submitted a request to our in-house print shop to make me up business cards with the job title of Alchemist just to see if they would.
    They did.
    (Hi, friends, colleagues, and former coworkers who I have told this story/shown the cards to. Please do not doxx me.)

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      If anyone does release your details, you can bet we’ll all be placing some Alchemy orders!

  71. In-house graphic designer in a marketing department*

    In my experience, if a company wants you to have business cards, they will provide them. If you need to make your own to represent your employer, please please please contact your marketing department.

  72. Sabine the Very Mean*

    I just like collecting them as a visual representation of my career progression. And to send to my mama.

  73. it's-a-me*

    Sometimes your company might get a ‘great deal’ on a business card purchase but they can’t justify 10,000 cards for each exec, so they think ‘we’ll just print some for the other staff’.

    Source: I have 500 business cards when I am in a purely internal-phone-only, no direct line, non-customer-facing role.

  74. TeacherLady*

    Generally most regular teachers don’t have business cards, but when I was substitute teaching they came in super handy to leave with my notes from the day. If the regular teacher liked you and knew the kids behaved for you they had your info and could specifically request you next time.

  75. Picking Wildflowers*

    I work for a regulatory agency as an inspector and wouldn’t be caught dead without a fistful of business cards in my pocket, I give them out all the time!

  76. bugscraper*

    I’ve been working for the same company for 13 years. Every year they give me a box of business cards. I used one to scrape a dead bug off my windscreen. The others are still in the many boxes.

  77. Nanani*

    Don’t make your own cards. Homemade printed cards are going to look tacky or even like a kid cosplaying as their parent’s job. Unless you happen to be a professional business stationary maker I guess.

    Homemade business cards in cultures where -everyone- has business cards only get used for non-business things – like fan meetups or pet fancier groups – and those not-business business cards will have much more “fun” elements that professional ones don’t have, like a photo of said pet.

    Your job should be providing them if it’s normal in your industry and position.

  78. Former Retail Lifer*

    I was a manager at an office supplies chain where there was a huge focus on growing the tech and copy center sides of the business. As a manager over the office supplies department, I didn’t have business cards. However, EVERYONE in the electronics and copy center had them, from managers to part-time salespeople. I guess I could have them made, but it was easier handing over the general manager’s card when someone was mad and threatened to call the corporate office and needed a name. ;)

  79. HereToHelp*

    In my government agency, business cards are not provided–however, there is an official design and an official printer, and if you want cards you’re required to go through that printer (which charges like 6x what Vistaprint does) and pay out of pocket.

    Shockingly, most people ignore this rule and quietly get cards printed elsewhere illicitly.

  80. RebelwithMouseyHair*

    I had a set made for me when I worked at the agency and was in contact with zero clients. It was a total waste of money and resources and I actually just chucked them in the recycling bin at home as soon as I walked in.

    When I launched my freelancing business, I had a set of cards made and even got a slim, sleek case to keep them from getting dog-eared or smeared in the chaos that passes for my bag. I have given them out on occasion, mostly to friends who are interested in my business. On exactly two occasions in the five years I’ve been freelancing, I pulled one out for a potential client and actually got work from them, so I suppose I got a decent return on investment.

    But nowadays, people just dictate their phone number and have the other person call them to make sure they each have the exact right number.

    I got myself a proper professional email address a few months after I printed out my cards, so they no longer even have the right address, and I’m gearing up to launch a website, in which case I’ll probably have yet another email address with the rebel domain name, and it would obviously make sense to have the website on my card too… but I’m really not sure I’m going to bother. Most new clients (apart from those who come via my social circle) seem to find me via LinkedIn, so I shall add the new details there.

  81. Sue D. O'Nym*

    If you make your own cards, be sure to proofread carefully. After a haircut, I once had a stylist give me a card with her hours, so I could make future appointments. According to the card, she worked at “Heir Cuttery”.

  82. Morgan Hazelwood*

    When my sister was commuting by metro for a professional job, she decided that business cards are 5% for business meetings/interviewing potential employees and 95% for handing to people you think are cute on public transit.

    I’m a writer, trying to get published, and I use them at SF & F conventions to point people at my social media and so we can connect after the event.

    Things I learned from my first batch?
    1 . Don’t make them black with light font! People like to write notes about why they’re following up with you on the back.
    2. Don’t put your book title on it, hopefully, you’re writing more than 1 and the title might change if it’s not already pubbed.

    1. Morgan Hazelwood*

      Said sister also got some printed out when she was a stay-at-home mom, that including things like [Kids]’s Mom, to help facilitate play dates for people she met at the park.

    2. DiplomaJill*

      “proud”? I’m confused what that has to do with it — My pride or self worth isn’t connected to a business card. I think they’re absurd because they’re not standard business card size.

      Does anyone use them— not since we’ve been remote for 2+ years and all travel / client meetings are paused. Did anyone use them before? I was never in a meeting where they were handed out. When I meet with clients we’ve already been in touch via email and video conference many, many times in advance of the meetings, so the data on a business card isn’t relevant or new anymore.

  83. Alanna*

    Our company is dealing with this right now! Several of us are going to an IRL conference for the first time in two years – and for some of us, it’s our first time with this company, so we don’t have any cards. I specifically asked for cards, because my role and status in the community has me interacting with a lot of people, and it would be odd not to have them, and not all of my interactions will be appropriate to be like ‘oh let me give you our sales guy’s card!” but some of our engineers are just going to be at the booth and they probably don’t really need (and have indicated they don’t really want) their own cards. So I think it can depend!

    I don’t think it’s okay for your work to make you make your own cards. It’s such a common business thing. But making personal cards is fine, just ensure they’re professional! I also recommend Canva :)

  84. fluffy*

    I’ve worked for a major Japanese corporation and they take their business cards extremely seriously there. Any time there’s a meeting between people from different departments, or even different teams, there’s an exchange of business cards between everyone who hasn’t yet met, and a very particular etiquette for accepting them, placing them on the table, and storing them for later.

    I haven’t had work-provided business cards in over a decade at this point, but I also haven’t had a job that involves meeting with vendors or clients. I do have personal business cards for my freelance/creative stuff, but I rarely have an opportunity or reason to use those anymore.

  85. Phil*

    I’ve been 12 years in my career, 4 roles all in the same company. None have ever been public-facing, so have never had any need of business cards… But that doesn’t mean I haven’t often been tempted to fill in the request form for them to see if they’d actually approve it.

    Also, am I the only one who read the title of this one in a Seinfeld voice?

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