The business card. It has served such a multitude of functions over time. It is both an announcement and a reminder of your presence in a profession. The design of the card “clothes” you with a certain style. From the staid Times New Roman font on slightly textured creme stock to wild and funky holographic designs, the card says as much about you as your attire.
Now you can show the world your tech-savvy nature using virtual cards. Like everything else, technology has touched the modern business card and there are all sorts of new ways to announce yourself and remind your audience about your sphere of influence. There are different tools depending upon your own preferred methods of communication.
Of course, most people are familiar with the vCard, a file format standard for electronic business cards. vCards are most frequently attached to e-mail messages, but can be exchanged in other ways. Short for Versitcard, vCards were first developed as long ago as 1995. vCards offer the means for incorporating the sender’s information into your electronic contacts list and are still widely used today.
But why stop at the primitive vCard? There are scores of new ways to capture this information. The iPhone offers many free apps for keeping and transmitting business card information, including SnapDat, beamMe, FreeContact, myCard Free, BeezCard Lite, Handshake, Fliq, and Dub. Check out this article by Jennifer Van Grove at Mashable describing and comparing the various apps and offering screenshots. There are paid apps with increased functionality as well. Newcomer iBCard will allow you to transfer a very real looking business card via the iPhone’s bluetooth connection or email.
Contxts affords the ability to share business card information via SMS text messages. Cool! TxtID provides a similar service.
DubMeNow has a virtual business card app for iPhone and Blackberry with added support for LinkedIn.
Or you can create and maintain an on-line business card and virtual Rolodex with web applications such as SpartX. With Retaggr, you can create an embeddable card with links to all of your on-line outposts.
You can expand your web information presence with such personal streaming sites as OnePage, Google Profiles or Chi.mp. These options really serve as outposts for aggregating your on-line presence and do not really offer true business card functionality, such as the ability to store the virtual cards of others. However, if you are most interested in maintaining a single spot for all of your on-line activity where you can direct interested contacts, these sites are the way to go.
You can even Tweet your business card using twtBizCard – to send, you just need to add #twtbizcard to a @reply!
Do you like to email your card, a la vCard, but want for something a bit more up to date? Try DropCard or WeaveMet – combining the power and ease of both email and SMS for a monthly fee.
Since business cards are as ubiquitous as cell phones, why not combine the two to create an instant virtual card network? MyNameIsE does just that. Taken from their site:
E enables you to collect your accounts – on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and every other network of your choice – in one spot, and share them in real life by using any mobile phone or Connector.
You decide which profiles you share: E allows you to make an online ‘business card’ for every occasion. This way, you’ll be able to share business info with business contacts, and private info with private contacts.
When you exchange your card via this service, you will automatically connect with your contact via all the chosen social networking sites as well. You can create different cards for different contexts, and set the desired connections accordingly. Use the phones’ internet connections or a proprietary device called, obviously enough, the Connector, to exchange information. Changes to contact information get pushed straight to your existing contacts automatically. This service looks absolutely fascinating to me and clearly seeks to push the business card into the future!
Bottom line? If you want to look modern and all techno-geeky like, consider some of these great electronic options to connect your card to the world!
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- Make Your Own Business Cards (thoughtmechanics.com)
- Cardxc: not an alternative to Business Cards? (thenextweb.com)
- BeamME Pitch uses your iPhone to beam a sales pitch (venturebeat.com)
You left out my current fave iPhone app: Bump. It requires another willing partner (who also has the app) but swapping contact info never felt so good!
I should have qualified my list as non-exhaustive – there are so many apps for this out there! Thanks for the recommendation, I will check it out!
Thanks for the overview! This took some work.
I appreciate the mention of chi.mp, and your insightful use of the descriptor “outpost.” We are always learning better ways to describe the service we provide.
You are very welcome Todd! I have been on Chi.mp for quite some time and love the idea behind it. I could probably fill an entire post just on Chi.mp and may just do that one of these days.