The Business Card Exchange

I was at a meeting last week in Chicago with other CIOs from the Midwest whom I had not previously met. Instinctively, we continued the time-honored tradition of exchanging business cards. In the era of LinkedIn, Bump, and a myriad of other technologies and methods to connect with others, it surprises me a little bit that this custom has not become extinct.

The Economist offers a reasonable explanation in Why the business card is thriving in the electronic age. The article notes, “The Chinese invented calling cards in the 15th century to give people notice that they intended to visit.” Since that time, there have been myriad iterations and purposes of cards—they may be quirky, clever, or even unique works of art. Personally, I’ve always found it helpful to have a card that is easy to write on.

After some thought, I realized that the card itself is really incidental to the value of the ritual: the introduction, handshake, discussion, and connection. A business card is a tangible souvenir of a physical interaction, a prized commodity in today’s increasingly impersonal, digital world.

Photo by Mark Baker

Photo by Mark Baker

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