What does “here, have my card” really mean?

August 17, 2007

We live in an age of advanced communication technology. The number of mobile phones worldwide is 3 billion. That means that there are potentially 3 billion people that can call your mobile phone at any given moment.

Wow! Imagine that. Three billion people, all with the ability to at any given moment talk to anyone else of the three billion.

Our phones have to be ringing all the time, right?

Well, as you probably know, it doesn’t (although sometimes it feels like it does) and there are two reasons for this. The first reason is a simple matter of cost. International calls are quite expensive and calling up strangers from all over the world quickly empties your wallet (although this will change as we’re moving to a 100% VoIP-world (55 million VoIP-users and counting), leaving the door open for VoIP-spam).

The second reason is even more important: there’s also a social cost to calling a stranger. What do you talk about? What value can you bring to each others life? Most people would say it’s rude to disturb someone with a phone call when you don’t know the person and the purpose of the call is unclear.

The third reason is noise. You can’t find someone to talk to even if you did have a valid reason to talk.

That’s why one of the most important communication technologies we have is based on a simple piece of paper: the business card.

businesscards_smaller.jpg

The business card carries an important social meaning. Giving someone your card signals to them that it’s OK to contact you (during business hours – and not on the weekend, unless explicitly stated) using the contact information on the card. It also contains a short description of who you are in one particular role for example as a representative of a company.

It says:

“I am X and I do Y. It’s OK to contact me using the methods described on this card if you need help with anything related to Y.”

Or:

There are three billion people out there you can call. This card tells you why you should call me.

Exchanging business cards is an internationally accepted way of connecting. It lowers the social cost of making a phone call. It clarifies the value that a conversation may have. That’s why we will make the business card a central part of the GlocalReach service. It’s at the core of how you manage how other people can reach you. Our beta is ready soon.

Update: marketing genius Seth Godin has a post on business card mistakes:

Precisely because they are an anachronism, they serve a vitally important function. In an era where no one dresses up anymore, they give you a chance to position yourself, to represent who you are and what you do in a three cent piece of paper. And yet… almost all business cards are terrible. They are the leisure suits of the marketing the world, the place where bad design not just lives, but thrives.

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2 Responses to “What does “here, have my card” really mean?”


  1. […] it certainly would. Posted by Erik Starck Filed in Design, GlocalReach, […]


  2. […] inbox of life” was the title of the article in which Erik talked about the business card as a social contract and how GlocalReach aims to bridge the digital world of social networking with the […]


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