Business cards are key to successful networking because they provide a small “reference sheet” that helps your new contacts remember your basic information.
Normally, business cards work perfectly for networking. However, a problem arises when people are unemployed or (as with many students) yet-to-be-employed.
What type of card should an unemployed person use?
Although this can be a challenging dilemma, the solution, once known, is simple.
When unemployed, you should use a networking card.
A networking card retains the basic layout of a business card while exchanging individual components.
For example, instead of listing their job position, an unemployed person would record their area of expertise.
A networking card has a number of advantages in job hunting:
- Shows you area of expertise
- Lists your ideal job type
- Shares your personal branding statement (more on this later)
- Provides your contact information
With this information on hand, your contacts are much more likely to recognize a good job opening and notify you than they would be if they did not know your expertise or interests.
In fact, I can think of a few personal friends and acquaintances who I know are currently looking for work. Unfortunately, I do not know what type of work they are looking for, so I am unable to help them in their job hunt.
A simple networking card can solve that problem.
Designing Your Card
Creating your networking card is not very difficult, and you can probably finish it in five to ten minutes.
A normal networking card contains five components:
With the advent of the internet, normal activities are changing. In the past, most job hunting was completed using only paper resumes. Now, online resumes have also been added to the mix.
Although online resumes do not yet (and probably never will) completely replace their paper counterparts, resume websites do give you an important advantage in today’s competitive job market.
Your online resume can be anything from a simple html file to a more complex website/blog combination.
When and if you build your resume website, you should list its address at the top of your networking card.
Obviously, your name should be included on your networking card.
Your name should be placed two lines below your website. Use a larger font and bolding to make it stand out.
Instead of recording your job position, you should list your area of expertise. This will help your contacts think to let you know if they hear about any related job openings.
This information should be communicated in one to three descriptive words just below your name. Use italics to set it apart.
#4 Branding Statement
Your personal branding statement should be a condensed description of your vision and expertise. In one sentence, explain your past experience and your future plans.
For instance, a website developer might say:
"Internet communications developer with heavy Wordpress theme design experience."
Try to balance the amount of jargon in your branding statement so it can be understood by industry outsiders as well as people in your field.
Insert your branding statement two lines below your name and expertise.
#5 Contact Information
Your contact information is obviously a necessary part of your networking card, just like it is on your business card.
Included these three pieces of information:
- Phone Number
- Fax (If you have one.)
Your contact information should be located two lines below your branding statement and stacked in such a way that the remaining space on your card is neatly filled.
Although you can have your networking cards professionally printed, you can produce them just as well at home. With the high costs of professional printing, this can save you some valuable money.
Just buy a sheet of business-card stock in the right color (probably white, but it should match your resume), print the cards on your home printer, and carefully cut them out using a pair of sharp scissors.
You are now ready to start networking!
What are your thoughts on networking cards (and business cards)?