By Donna Cardillo, RN, MA
Take a look the next time you see two professional people meet each other for the first time. Chances are, they’ll shake hands and exchange business cards. Each hands the other her card, looks it over, and gets on with the conversation or business at hand.
If you’re like most nurses, you probably don’t have a business card. But every professional needs a business card to network in the 21st century. And that means you.
“I’m not an executive or own a business. Why do I need a business card?” you might think. Don’t get hung up on the word “business” here; it’s just terminology. Your card is a professional way of exchanging information with someone or of presenting your contact information to another person.
If you don’t have a card, consider asking your boss to pay for obtaining them. Tell her a card is part of a professional image and that you’ll use them to network at association meetings and other events. That enhances not only your image, but also your facility’s.
If she won’t obtain business cards for you, have some made yourself. They’re relatively easy and inexpensive to have printed at any local print shop.
The appearance of your card makes an impression about you, so be sure to have cards that are professionally printed, free of fancy borders, cute pictures and flowers, garish colors, and such. Keep it simple. A plain white card with black lettering will do just fine.
Be cautious in using computer-generated cards that you can make yourself. These cards are typically flimsy and someone savvy can detect the minute perforations around the edge.
Home or business?
You may be wondering “Should I list my home or my business contact information on my card?” Either is acceptable. One advantage of using your home information is that you don’t have to get a new card made every time you change jobs. Along with your name and credentials (e.g. RN, BS), include your address, phone and fax numbers, and
Carry your business cards wherever you go. Don’t leave them on your desk, in the car, or at home. Keep some in your wallet or purse at all times. Consider getting a business card holder to keep your cards in. This keeps them from getting dog-eared in your pocket and makes for a professional presentation when you present your cards.
When someone gives you her card, take a few moments to look it over rather than just sticking it in your pocket or briefcase. Show interest by commenting on the information. This is appropriate business card etiquette. After parting company, you may want to jot a note on the back of the card as to where and when you met for future reference.
Set up a system to keep the business cards you accumulate for handy reference. Consider buying a folder with card pockets made expressly for this purpose.
If someone asks you for your card and you don’t have one or didn’t bring yours with you, don’t ask that person to give you one of her cards so you write your name on the back of it. This is considered rude. If necessary, jot your name and number on a pad or piece of paper and give it to the other person. However, be sure you aren’t in that situation more than once. Paper slips are easily lost.
Matter of time
If no one has ever asked you for your card, I guarantee someone soon will. Business cards affirm to yourself that you’re someone who matters. And they make the right impression every time you say, “Here’s my card.”
Reprinted with permission from Nurses.com (www.nurses.com).
Copyright by Verticalnet, Inc., Horsham, PA., 215-315-3247.
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