The business card can be seen as the hallmark of taking your first step on the corporate ladder. Getting your first business card is a major milestone in any young professional’s career, however once you get it, who do you give it to? Relatives? Neighbors? Small pets? Your goldfish? The possibilities seem endless.
Usually when you are on the bottom rung, you only get a limited amount of cards to work with. It might seem like a lot at first, but you would be surprised how quickly they can go (especially if you hand them out to your goldfish, they always need a couple). So how do you decide who takes priority? I have listed three groups below that you will usually need to hand out your business cards to, so you should always reserve some for them.
- Clients – Obviously, this is the big one. More often than not, your clients will want your contact information, and the easiest way to do this is with your business card. Also, you can get theirs in return, which gives you access to their contact information. Handing out your business cards to your client is also a long-standing business practice that reflects well on the professionalism of both you and your company. Unless they specifically request otherwise, you really can’t go wrong handing out your business card to your clients.
- Senior Executives in your company – You need to be tactful when doing this, but if done properly this can be a powerful networking tool for you. Don’t just run up to your CEO and shove a card in their face, but if you are introduced it can’t hurt to throw a business card their way. Also, if you have a speaker who is a senior executive and you stay to meet them afterwards, you can offer them a business card as well. If you make a good impression, it might lead to excellent opportunities in your company that you might not have been considered for before (this is especially true in large companies). Also remember that “Senior Executive” does not have to be a CEO, it can be your boss’s boss or even your boss. As long as you are tactful, this kind of PR (Public Relations) can only help your career.
- Your Co-Workers – What? Does this sound like a waste of a good business card? Actually it’s not, as long as you don’t get carried away. A great way to use this is if you are at a conference or training event where you meet people from your company that might work in a different location (even a different country). You never know when these kinds of contacts can come in handy, and it’s much easier to keep in contact with someone across the country when you have their phone number or email in your hand.
This is not to say that you can’t give some away to your family, friends, and neighbors. It’s an exciting thing to do and you should take full advantage of it. However, the point that I want to make is this: You should always have some reserve business cards for the groups that I have mentioned above. Other than that, you can distribute the rest of your stock however you want.