3.5 x 2 inches: your secret career hack

“Can I have your business card?”

“What? Sorry, I don’t have one. I’m a university student. I work here part-time.”


“Well, as I said, I only work here part-time. We don’t get employer-issued business cards. Only the executive folks do. I think.”


[Mumbles something incoherent about older people and fancy jobs]

“Let me tell you something, my young friend, a business card is your way of making connections. You don’t need your employer to validate your professional existence with a business card. Go get your own. But the next time someone asks you what you’re doing after graduation: be prepared. Hand them your business card. Don’t lose the lead.”

As a part-time customer service associate at a museum, I had just helped this gentleman purchase a membership for his family. Delighted by his experience, he offered me the opportunity to interview at his company after graduation. He handed me a business card and asked for one in return — where I, as you can see, “lost the lead.”

This conversation took place 9 years ago. The concept of Personal Branding did not exist at the time. And as much as I’d like to say I learned something that day and promptly followed up on his advice — I didn’t. Not until I had lost countless more opportunities to make helpful connections.

I’m writing this to make sure you don’t make the same mistake.

This is especially important if you — like myself at the time — are a young professional who has just gotten out there to explore his or her career options.

So this is what you need to do. Go to a service like Moo or Vista Prints or Staples, and order a stack of business cards for yourself. Print them at home on good quality stock paper, if you must. But keep them with you wherever you go.

It really doesn’t cost you much time or money to design a crisp, clean and professional business card. And even if it did, the investment will pay for itself in no time at all.

A business card is simply the best networking tool.

They aren’t just meant for “entrepreneurs” or “professionals” with cool jobs and fancy offices. The kind of business cards I’m referring to here don’t just list out your name, role and contact information. They are a mini resume / your unique selling proposition / your elevator pitch that neatly fits into a 3.5 X 2 inch piece of paper.

You can argue that it’s easy to reach anyone with a simple google search these days. Finding people on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram is no big deal. So why should you carry a business card?

Because they are unique. They are unexpected. As simple as that.

Especially in the age of social media, which honestly adds to its appeal.

The uniqueness intrigues the receiver enough to want to know what you’re all about. And isn’t that how you make a connection?

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