I got my first business cards when I was 20. At the time, I considered it pretentious - and I'm sure that was also the view of my peers when they happened to notice, but the fact was that I was starting to be asked for my phone number and email address by people who may want to pay me money for work. They were very formal based on a template at the company I ordered from, and were basically what I thought a business card should look like; if slightly different from the black text on white card "business" business cards. I didn't have a website, and just a single personal email address through which all of my email went. I still have a stack of them somewhere, gathering dust.
Time passed, and as I prepared to move on from film school back into the world, I got my own website and domain - and therefore new cards. This time I went with a style which has usually been described as funky. Again, they were based on a website template with custom colours, but they were significantly less formal; whilst still standing apart from the black on white formality.
These are currently the cards which I give out to the places where I work, and at certain other times - usually for people who already know me but don't yet have the full set of contact details. They fit neatly into existing systems for card indexing, they're reasonably distinctive amongst many cards, and all of the information is on the front with a plain white back (for additional notes). What they lack is any aspect of me - after all, they're once again based on a template at the site I used.
So what I now have are these half-sized cards from moo.com (they also do full-size, postcards, stickers....)
Utterly generic front (top left) with all of the relevant information, but on the back I was able to select photos to upload. I selected images from 3 different projects to match different areas of expertise:
- Pirates(bottom right) - on which I was VFX Editor, and certainly the film which I'm most likely to mention to people at networking events. By giving them this card, they can associate that conversation with my information.
- Cherry on the Cake (bottom left) - an animation graduation film from the NFTS, representing my interest in animation editing.
- Brixton 85 (top right) - a short film at the NFTS, and one of the most successful from my time there. The director Tom Green went on to direct episodes of Misfits, and is currently working on a BBC drama. This card therefore represents my interest in drama editing, and from my showreel it's usually the clip that people most remember when I'm meeting up with them to discuss work.
I carry these cards around with me at all times in their nifty custom case, and by far collectively they're currently my most-used. Certainly in networking contexts, being able to hand someone my card and show them the image from the film most relevant to the type of opportunity I may be offered, and then talk a little about it - it's a great visual aid, and hopefully something which will inspire them to check out my website to find out more. Next time I order them, I'll probably get different sets with different job titles - these were a trial on a special order, and they'd only accept one 'front' - but they've proven to be pretty popular.
Then, of course, there's the issue of social networking. I have a large number of links (LinkedIn, Twitter, various UK job site profies) on the top right of every page of my website - do they belong on a card? Increasingly so, it seems. And since I know that I've instantly followed (or at least looked up) someone on Twitter when they've included their username in a presentation, it seems increasingly relevant. At least until the next big thing comes along?