Domino has a big event this week where I’ll hopefully get to mingle with lots of important people. In the words of my boss, everyone who would ever hire me at Conde Nast will be there. No pressure, right?
Putting a little extra effort into prepping for events with big networking potential is 100% worth it. No matter where you work–but especially in fashion–who you know is everything. You never know in an industry so close-knit when you will run into someone again, and who will one day be able to offer you a great opportunity. It’s extremely important to make a good first impression.
I thought it was high time, therefore, to put some time into my personal branding this weekend and design a business card that I’ll be able to use while in college. After designing and printing them, I’ve learned a few lessons.
1. I actually wanted a “calling card,” not a business card.
A business card usually has your company logo on it and tells people where you work. Instead, get a calling card—a card with your personal contact info on it, not your job stuff—that represents you as an individual, not an employee. It’s more practical for a young professional like me, because I can keep the same card as I move from job to job, and hopefully people will appreciate the effort I’ve put into building my personal brand. Which brings me to:
2. Your card should feel like you.
A calling card can be much more creative than a business card. It sets the mood for your professional personality; it’s what people will remember you by after your first meeting. The design you choose should reflect who you are and who you aspire to be. It should feel good to you. In other words, it has to mesh with your vibe, bro.
3. Keep it simple.
Gimmicky cards (see here and here) can be cool, but you probably don’t need that many bells and whistles right now. In fact, something super fancy could backfire on you. Really, your card is just like your outfit; you want to look like you care, but never like a try-hard. A well-designed card in a simple color scheme is like jeans, a blazer and heels: always appropriate.
4. Give ‘em all the good stuff.
Your card should always give your name, email, phone number, and school (if you’re a student). If you have an awesome website, blog, or other online presence, include that too! Another great way to show that you’re with the times is including your social media handle (which, if possible, should be the same across all platforms) or the URL of your LinkedIn page. Just make sure that the info you give leads only to places that you’re proud of and that are professional.
5. If you don’t know how to design it, find someone who does.
I’m in d-school and feel comfortable making my own cards on Adobe Illustrator. If you’re not, don’t be afraid to ask for help. See if a person in the art department or career center can give you some feedback on your work. And if you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing, outsource it. Trade favors with an artsy friend or contract someone online to do the work for you (there are lots of affordable options on Etsy). This investment in yourself is 100% worth it. Just don’t use one of those crappy templates on the business card sites…they all look cheesy!
6. How it feels is just as important as how it looks.
A great design can’t make a great impression on a cheap-feeling card. It’s not like it has to be letterpressed linen, but paper quality absolutely makes a difference. When in doubt, choose something that feels thicker, substantial, and distinctly paper-y (not plastic-y).
If possible, go to the printer and feel the cards before you order them. If a batch of cards is super cheap to print, there’s probably a reason and you’re not going to like it (looking at you, Staples.)
7. Extend the design to the rest of your stuff.
Carry the design of your new cards over to the rest of your stuff: your resume, your website, and your portfolio, if you have one. Nothing says “I am WITH it” like a cohesive bundle of professional goodies.
Weak. in. the. knees. Image from Sara Duncan’s Behance.
After a few hours of fiddling, I ended up with this. I think I like it—it fits me. Is it my “forever” card? Probably not, but I’m glad I have it to hand out at events this summer.
I’d love to hear business/calling card tips and tricks from people who have been at this longer than I have, particularly people in creative industries. What’s the most impressive card you’ve ever seen?