Professional Development 101: Business Cards for Networking Events

As part of the Center for Digital Engagement Digital Clinic, participants experience a host of fantastic networking opportunities. From panels with alumni, to mixers, to professional networking events and constant enhancement of web presence, participants gain a wide breadth of professional development in just nine short weeks with the hopes of launching a successful career.

One small but important token of that career is the often-forgotten business card. No matter where you are in your education, be that still midway through undergrad, a recent grad or a grad student, you may find it wise to create some to take with you to professional networking events, job fairs, or even conferences in your field. Here’s a couple of resources to get you started, including tips on pricing and discounts, and the pros and cons of each.

Online Providers

Popular options for sourcing business cards include online print on demand services like Vistaprint or MOO. Both providers offer a wide variety of styles, orientation options, designs and finishes to

choose from, and come highly recommended. To the left is a print of the front side of one of my older cards I made using Vistaprint last year. As a caveat from my own experience, be sure not to make the print too small. If the text is small or blurry in the online preview like it is in this example, it will be microscopic in print.

One great pro with these providers is that they often offer deep discounts. Vistaprint’s current spring sale is 25% off your order. Unlike some of the big, local chain retailers listed below, however, you might have to wait a few days to get your cards. These are great for ordering ahead. 

Chain Retailers

Big box stores like Costco and Staples also offer business card printing services. Staples current offer of 500 business cards starting from $14.99 is one of the best prices out there per card. These retailers generally offer less customization options than online retailers like Vistaprint and MOO, but one perk they offer in addition to their low prices is that they can be made and printed same day in many cases. These options are great for last minute needs.

Local Stores

Another option to consider is going local. Here in the Ypsi-Ann Arbor area, we have several printing stores such as Ypsi Standard, Kolossos and Print Tech. Ypsi Standard also offers a 10% discount for EMU students. These options may be more expensive. Smaller print shops also generally need to be contacted well in advance to establish a quote and timeline of printing.

One thing to consider about these options is that they are often much more eco-friendly than using bigger retailers. Print Tech is a Partner in the U.S. EPA Green Power Partnership and part of Washtenaw County’s Waste Knot program, for example.     

Other Options

Don’t be quick to think you need to pick one of the above three options and get out your wallet. As students and recent grads, you may be eligible for reduced cost or free business card printing services through your school’s Career Services center, or a community partner they’re working with. Depending on your industry or graphic design skills and printing abilities, you may also want to consider designing your own or hiring an artist. 

What Goes on my Business Card? How many should I get? Do I even need them?

One important thing to remember is that depending on where you are in your career and how aggressive of a networker you are, and even what kind of networking you’re doing, your needs will vary significantly. If you aren’t going to job fairs or doing much in person networking, you may find you need few or no cards.

Even if you do decide that business cards are the right decision for you, be careful not to buy too many. An important rule of thumb to remember for students and early career professionals is that your profile and the information on that card will likely change quickly. You probably don’t want (or need) to buy 500 or even 250 cards. Vistaprint also offers a great guide for what to put (and not put) on a business card.

If you know about any other resources or have any further recommendations, comment here! 

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