Back in 1991 after I had been out of work for only a few weeks I sent out a mailing and somehow managed to get an interview with a guy who looked and talked like Frank Perdue.
After we shook hands, he offered me his business card and asked for mine. I told him I didn’t have one. He then asked me if I had a name. I said yes. He asked me if I had an address. I said yes. He asked me if I had a phone number. I said yes. Well, he said, you should have a business card. Fortunately for me, he moved on with the interview. But, lesson learned. I went out the next day and got cards.
The problem I faced was what to put on it. Should I put only name and contact information or should I make up a title for myself? I decided on a title of Financial Consultant, and I put some other information about what I did. (Of course, the typesetter spelled Acquisitions incorrectly and I passed out quite a few cards before my friend Alan Ross pointed out this error to me at a networking meeting. Fortunately, it wasn’t my mistake, but rather the printer’s.)
The issue is what to put on business cards if you aren’t working or really consulting. The same problem exists if you have been out for a while. What filler, if any, should you use on your resume?
I would suggest you do what is true.
Having gone to networking meetings and gotten many business cards from those “pretending” to be consultants, I can tell you that it doesn’t take much to figure out that folks are unemployed. It could be that us financial types lack imagination or are just plain cheap, but MattBud@gmail.com isn’t going to look very convincing on a card. If you haven’t got a website I would suggest you look silly “pretending” to be a serious consultant.
The one thing I can tell you is that you do need a card. It is just plain inconvenient to write your information down every time you want someone you meet to be able to reach you. If you give your card to someone, they feel the need to give you theirs. Hard to start that process if you don’t have one.
I would also suggest that regardless of what is on your card, you should get them properly printed. All we are talking about here is $50 and it should be within your budget.
It is also a good idea to spend the money on a business line for calls or use your cell phone on your business cards if reception is good back in your “home office.” Although I again would suggest you not answer it “Bud & Associates” when it is just you, at least you can answer it “This is Matt Bud.” (You should probably use your own name, of course, when answering your phone, otherwise it will confuse people.)
The advertising business which I was in for almost 10 years would suggest that you look as big as you can, but do it in a smart way. Just as we all know about “piercing the corporate veil,” figuring out who is and who isn’t real isn’t very difficult.
Those who would like to send in suggestions for what to put on business cards should write to Leads@TheFENG.org and Leslie will publish them in our Notes from Members column. As you know, sharing our knowledge is what The FENG is all about.