By Stephanie Ciccarelli
July 18, 2006
Business cards open up endless possibilities and connect YOU with other people... if you let them.
What is a business card?
A business card isn't just a piece of paper.
A business card is an identification card, representing you, your brand, and most vitally, is a portable networking tool that bears your contact information and credibility as an operating business.
Carrying business cards at all times is very important because you never know when you'll run into someone who wants to work with you. Whether it's a potential client, a colleague, or a reporter, you should always have a handful of cards on your person wherever you go.
Now that we've covered why business cards are significant, it's time for a little housekeeping :)
For best results, include the following on your business card:
- Company name
- Your name or stage name
- Your corporate mailing address
- Work Telephone number
- Fax Number (if applicable)
- Email Address
- Website (for example, your website at Voices.com)
Some professionals opt to have a logo or photograph of themselves on the card. Let's delve into this gray area for a while...
A photograph on a business card is a visual reminder of who you are. Many real estate agents have their photos on their cards, chiefly because most of their business is conducted in person and they are leveraging their physical image to help sell their services to you.
As this isn't the case for the majority of voice work, you may think that it would not generate the same effect. When all is said and done, the product you sell is your voice, not your appearance. That factor alone could prove the clincher for not including a photograph of yourself on your business card or website.
However, consider this: the Internet can often be 'faceless' and 'surreal', especially when conducting business. If you sent your clients hard copies of your business card in the mail with your photo or likeness, they would be able to put a face to the voice, so to speak, and think of you more as a professional than as someone they worked with "on the 'net".
Of all the business cards I have ever received, the only ones with photographs have been of musicians, real estate agents, and other artistic types. This suggests that most freelance professionals consider their company as an extension of themselves, branding promotional materials with their photo or likeness.
When comparing the cards of freelance professionals with corporate business cards, particularly those of web companies, I found that the business cards of employees stationed at larger companies focus on selling the company website instead of placing the emphasis on the point of contact.
Are we losing our identities as individuals and becoming 'websites' instead of business people?
It doesn't take the absence of a photo to lose your identity, but it does take the absence of personality and vitality.
The Internet makes it too easy to sit back and let work "just come to you".
How do you turn into a website?
This can be achieved by relying on email as your primary (or sole) source of communications with customers, building impersonal web pages and content that doesn't set you apart, and using 'form' emails instead of providing your email address. Although forms may prevent spam to a degree, they may also be preventing opportunities from reaching your inbox.
That being said, if it's hard to contact you, I mean the real you, it's quite possible that you're currently just another website and not a business person after all. That's a scary thought, especially when the goal is to make contacts and grow your business.
This is when we have to start thinking critically about how business is done, especially online, and how we can humanize the experience, with or without a photograph.
One way to start is by getting out and meeting people, in other words, networking.
Joining a local business club is a good first step to help you build bridges and have face time with other professionals from diverse industries. Your library or phone book is the place to start looking for these groups. The likelihood of people outside of our industry knowing a voice talent personally is slim, and you might just be the only link they have to a great voice-over for their company. Not only that, but social interaction is healthy for everyone :)
Another way is to include more than just bare bones information on your website. For clients who find you there first, it is truly the first impression of who you are as a person as much as it is of your voice.
Try adding a blog to your website where you can talk about your services candidly. Some good examples of voice talent blogs can be found at Bob Souer's blog, Karen Commins' blog, Ron Harper's blog, and at Dave Christi's blog. The language that you use when communicating to people online needs to be transparent and genuine, and you can see from these blogs that they are nothing but.
Networking is paramount to growing your business and making new contacts, whether online, over the phone or in person. You never know when someone in your network will refer you to one of their colleagues or hire you for work. When you develop a rapport with a variety of business people, opportunities that benefit you may abound from unexpected sources, even through a blog posting.
Does your business card connect people with YOU or just another website?
agents, industry, stage name
P.S. If you're interested in making your business card unique, check out this Business Card Best Practices post by Robert Scoble.