If you are a student at university, whether you are in your first year of studies or your final year, there is one piece of ammunition to arm yourself with.
A business card. Yep, a business card. Even though you don’t have a business. Even though you might not work for a business. You need a business card. This applies to ALL university students, whether you are first or final year, undergraduate or postgraduate. All of you.
I never had a business card until recently, and I regret it. Last year I went to my first academic conference. I went unarmed. No business cards. And it was awkward, more than once. It was an environment where networking is one the reasons people attend conferences. I took home plenty of business cards, but do you think anyone took home mine? Nope, in fact there was almost always an awkward moment where people would ask for my card, and instead of swiftly and smoothly handing over a business card, I would fumble around for my pen and notepad and write out my details. Why didn’t I think of taking business cards? Well I was inexperienced, and nobody was nice enough to write a blog post like this one.
What can I use business cards for?
Business cards come in handy for more than conferences though. As a student you are striving to further yourself and your opportunities. You need to start acting like a professional. Part of being a professional is making contacts that could help you in the future. Your business cards can be used in a variety of ways, including:
- Swapping with other students when collaborating on an assignment,
- Give them out at job interviews,
- Networking events,
- Use them at job fairs at your university campus,
- If you have a blog or website, they can direct people to it on the business card,
- When asking someone out on a date,
- As an invitation,
- Anytime you would otherwise need to write out your phone number or email.
These days, there are even high-tech versions of business cards. If you prefer to go paperless, you can still order a digital business card that you can email and send to contacts.
Where can I get business cards?
If you are a PhD student, you can often use any study funds to cover the cost of getting business cards printed. However, if you have to pay for them yourself they need not cost you a fortune. I can personally recommend a printer that will fit in with the stingiest student budget, and that is Vistaprint. Vistaprint offer a range of designs that you can order and personalise for FREE! Yes free. You just have to pay for postage (if in Australia, it is roughly $7). You can get 250 FREE business cards through Vistaprint. In this case, it is not a case of you get what you pay for. I have ordered many sets of business cards through Vistaprint and I can attest to the quality of their business cards. Of course, if you choose to, you can pay extra to get your cards printed on both sides, and get a photo added. But if you are looking to save money, you can get 250 business cards delivered to you for just the cost of postage.
Note: I didn’t get paid by Vistaprint for this plug, I just really like their products and prices.
What design do I choose?
There are many free designs offered by Vistaprint, and thousands more by other companies worldwide. Choosing a design can be tricky, but fun at the same time. What you need to think about here is how you want to portray yourself. You need to decide on your personal brand. Do you want to be known as a studious professional? This may be good for business fields. If you are in arts, then a flamboyant design might be more appropriate. If you are in medicine, a sleek, almost clinical design may be more appropriate. Remember here, your business card will be a reflection on you, long after you have met the person. Choose a design that suits you, your personality and how you want to be remembered. You can get creative, and this can help you become more memorable. For instance, see 10 memorable business cards.
What do I put on my business card?
Once you have decided to order your business cards, your next step is to plan what you want to say. This is important. Your business card can be kept for months, if not years after you have met a person. First things first. Get the basics on there. Your name, where you’re from (you could list your university) and how to contact you (phone, email, website). You can also provide additional information. For example, as a researcher looking to connect with like-minded researchers, I list my research interests on my business card. Think about what else you want that person to remember about you and be sure to put that on your card. These days even putting your twitter ID on the card is becoming commonplace.
What should I do now?
Go forth and hand out business cards! I would love to hear from you if you have heard of any other good deals on business cards. If you have an idea on how to stand out with your business card, please leave them in the comments.
You might also like:
- 10 Things your university tutor won’t tell you
- Quick exam revision techniques
- The Importance of a Great Business Card
- In the Cards: 10 Memorable Business Cards and Tips for Designing Your Own
- A Business Card Is A Business Card…Or Is It?
- Business cards that link to your digital world via microchip
- Bring your Business Card into the 21st Century