How To Digitize Your Business Cards

Posted in Busyness Blog, Productivity

Like it or not more of your business is going digital.  There is always going to be a desire for tangible things.  For instance, I have not yet made the full transformation from print books to digital books.  However, handling business cards is an area of my business that I transformed completely to digital.  I would like to share two scenarios and a simple tool for each to convert paper business cards into digital ones.

The first scenario involves the way that you use your own business card.  If you're still carrying around a business card, how many times have you found yourself in a situation where you didn't have one available?  C'mon, be honest.  Someone asked you for your card but you didn't have one in your possession at that exact moment.  Maybe you found one buried in your work bag or center console of your vehicle.  Or maybe you apologized and exchanged email addresses to make contact at a later date.

I used to find myself in that situation countless times over the years.  In fact, it happened to me again earlier this week only this time I was ready.  I was flying back to Orlando from a client meeting in Detroit.  I sat next to a CEO of an innovative marketing firm.  Near the end of the flight he asked me, "So Dr. Brad, can I get your business card and follow with you later this week?"  Rather than having to fumble through my bag or stumble with an explanation for not having a card handy, I calmly replied, "Jack, I don't carry a business card any longer.  However, you can get all of my mobile card by texting Dr Brad to 90210."  My reply raised Jack's eyebrows, "Ok, I'll do that" he replied.

We continued to chat as the plane taxied to the gate.  Jack asked more questions about the technology that I was using for my mobile card.  Later that day, I saw his request come through and called me a day later.  Personally, I find the use of a Mobile Card (also referred to as an MCard) to be a win-win.  I don't have to carry business cards around.  Jack doesn't have to worry about carrying mine, either.  With one simple text to a memorable short code (90210), my vCard was sent directly to Jack's phone.  No card.  No data entry.  No scanning.  Done.

Think about the purpose of a business card.  The purpose of a business card is to exchange information so that you can contact an individual again.  By digitizing and delivering an MCard, my contact information is instantly in his phone.  I don't have to worry about him losing my business card or relying on him to use the card to make contact with me.

Now, reality is that traditional business cards are still a way of life.  So receiving a business card from someone else is the second scenario (opportunity) to digitize your business cards.  As we were waiting to deplane, I accepted Jack's card and stuck it in the inside pocket of my sport coat.  Before I started to use a system for managing business cards, Jack's would have no doubt remained in my pocket until the time that I wanted to contact him.  However, the next day after arriving home I digitized his card using a personal system that works for me.

Not surprisingly, Evernote is the application that I use at the center of my system.  Whenever I collect a business card from someone else, I scan the card into my Evernote account using my Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300 scanner.  Both sides of the business card are immediately scanned and a new note in Evernote is created.  In order to be consistent and make it easy to find a person's contact information in the future, here is the details of how I fill-out the note:

Note Title: Firstname Lastname | Company | Title (optional)
Notebook: People
Tags: Contact
Content Area: Usually only the scanned business card although sometimes I'll add a reminder note about the event/location we met or about a specific topic of conversation.

By following this system, all of the business cards I receive are scanned and stored in Evernote and then shredded.  It makes it easy for me to lookup a person's information at anytime and from anywhere.  I plan to continue to manage business cards in this manner until one day when everyone has a MCard (or some other type of digitized contact information).

So how about you?  Do you have a system for managing the business cards that you receive?  Are you still carrying and exchanging business cards or have you ventured out into the digital world?  I'd love to to hear from you by commenting below.

  • Jessica

    Hey Brad, Hope all is well with you and the fam.  Am I going to see you at 123 event in Orlando next weekend? I see you are using the 90210 version.  Have you seen IC yet?  Way more powerful delivery system.  Let's chat!

    • Dr. Brad Semp

      Hi Jessica - thanks for the note.  Yes, 90210 has been a great platform for me and many clients.  :)  There's a very good possibility that I may shoot on over to 123 next week.  Looking forward to connecting with you soon.

  • Gaz

    Nice tip about the digital business card,  but they aren't international yet and I'm based in the UK! If anyone has any local alternatives please let me know..

    • Dr. Brad Semp

      Great question, @c9650ef58b96de7de8aeeab7741d20f2:disqus! I wish that I or another reader had more information about a solution in the UK!

  • Abhay

    Cool system. Have you tried any smartphone app solutions?

    • Dr. Brad Semp

      Hi @ca96b5d4007cccaa0f76c12efa7023fe:disqus - I have messed around with a few smartphone apps. For me, I have the original HTC EVO 4G that has limited internal phone storage. I found that trying to manage contacts using one of the smartphone app solutions caused memory issues. With Evernote, I have all of the contact information in a centralized location that I can access at any time across any device (including my smartphone). BTW - I cover this in more detail in the Evernote for Busy People course that I just opened up to everyone at no charge =>> Enjoy!

  • Ryan

    I totally agree Dr. Brad...what do we do about the current rolodex of biz cards sitting our desk.

    • Dr. Brad Semp

      Hi @b8358e5561318a608a2e059466fbf60c:disqus - here's exactly how I handle my stack of business cards. I simply scan each one using my Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300 (one by one) and put into into my 'Contacts' notebook and label the note with these tags: contact, business card, & person's name. I then discard or shred each business card and voila! :)

  • Jeff

    I love Evernote and am finding new ways to use it all the time. I don't have a massive number of contacts at this point and I also love CardMunch (smartphone app). I take a picture of someone's business card with the app. It is saved and then goes and syncs with LinkedIn and comes back with all the data from the pictured card and any additional data from LinkedIn (about a minute or two wait time). I can then copy the contact to my iPhone if I think I will be contact that individual on a regular basis! It is also fun to hand back the physical card to someone! :D

  • Steve

    I'm just getting started with Evernote and find it an awesome app. I have used my smartphone with Evernote to take a picture of a business card. It works just about as well as a scanner and I always have it with me.

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