If you’re going to an event at which you will meet people, it’s always a good idea to have a business card. Think of a business card as a neat little package of information about yourself. A well-designed business card will give your new acquaintance a succinct description of you and what you represent, and multiple means to contact you so they can follow up.
There are a few things that should be on every business card, not necessarily in the following order:
- Your name! This is essential, because “mystery cards” often get thrown out.
- A description of what you do. This can be your job title, services your organization provides, or your skills. Keep it brief and informative.
- Your university, company, or organization name. Again, including this will avoid the “mystery card” issue.
- Your contact information – phone number and e-mail address are essential. You can also include relevant social media information. For example, LinkedIn is a good option as it’s essentially an online resume. Be wary of including social media you primarily use in your personal life, such as Facebook.
- Your website or blog if you have one. Include this if you are looking for a job that requires skills you display in your website/blog or you’re promoting a product or business.
Now that you know what should be on a business card, here are things to consider when designing one:
- Don’t put too much information on your business card. Think of the most effective presentations you’ve seen – the slides aren’t cluttered, but clear, concise, and get the point across.
- Highlight the most important information. Use the white space you have.
- Don’t use too many colors – less is more. In fact, the less colors you use, the more professional it will look. Think of color as a way of adding emphasis. If your business card has a logo on it, make sure the color you choose is present in the logo or complements the logo.
- Make sure your business card is legible! The font size needs to be readable, and the font needs to look professional. Arial, Calibri, and New are good choices, whereas Comic Sans, Papyrus, and Brush Script are not. Make sure your font color is dark and has sufficient contrast to your card background color. One way to check is to test your business card by scanning it – is everything clear and legible?
- Carefully consider size and shape. Most business cards are 2” x 3.5”, and so most business card holders are designed for this size.
- Make sure you use a professional printing service and quality material. Business cards you print yourself on printer paper will look unprofessional and not last long. Many people like taking notes on business cards, making non-glossy card stock a popular option, but there are many possible business card materials out there.
There are lots of options for customizing a business card. You can add images of your work or product (making sure you have the rights to use them or they are in the public domain), you can use the back of the card for further information, you can include an attention-getting slogan on the back of your card, etc. Some people even make separate business cards for different situations. Canva is free to use and an easy way to design professional-looking business cards. Just remember to keep it simple and relevant – you want to entice the recipient of your business card into learning more and staying in contact with you.
Now that you know how to make a business card, where can you get it printed?
- Use your university printing service: every university should have one of these. Here is the printing service for the UC system. They provide simple business cards with the university crest or logo, and often departments have options to get university business cards cheaply for PhD students.
- Use an online printing service: these provide many options for customization, can be quite cheap, and are often fast. On top of that, these services generally offer design templates for you to work with in case you’re not sure where to start. Popular services include Moo, Vistaprint, Overnightprints, and many other options.
- Use a local printing shop: good ones will work with you to design cards, and ensure your specifications are met. Some of them will even do same day printing, in case you need business cards in a hurry. Many local shops are priced competitively, and some offer specialty services not found online.
There are many resources on business cards freely available, from advice columns on business card etiquette to design templates. Start thinking about what you want your business card to say and how you want it to look – you’re bound to find something you like!