Why carry multiple business cards in a LinkedIn world?

Business_Cards

In today’s world, most of us play different roles within one job!

When I started my career my view of the world was simple. I felt that I had one job with one title and would only need one business card until I was promoted. That view of the world only lasted until I took my first job in sales.

Working in hardware sales at IBM in the early 1980’s, I was first exposed to “situational titles”. In addition to my “standard” business card with my official job title, I often found that I was often called in for “situational expertise”. Soon, I had a second card printed proclaiming me as an “Apparel Industry Specialist” to establish my credibility with our office’s largest customers. It was clear that apparel industry customers valued my opinions far more when they saw that card than my “job title” card.

When I started my flagship company (Strategic Business Systems, Inc.), I found that I had the opposite problem! I chose to use the title of “Managing Director” on my job title card. It implied that I had some power, but was ambiguous enough to allow me to not “negotiate as the ultimate decision maker” (the kiss of death in deal making). As I developed a sales force, that card became a problem. While I was trying to build up my sales personnel, my “more powerful” title card meant that customers would look to me rather than the person who I hired to manage and negotiate deals with accounts. It was time to call the printer again to get a deck of “Senior Consultant” cards. On a sales call, this implied that I was knowledgeable and respected, but not someone who possessed power. That card clearly placed my sales people in the role that I wanted for them. It worked well … and after the deal closed, some sharp customers got a laugh when they saw my signature on the Agreement.

Over the years, I’ve had to expand my business card inventory several more times. As I’ve started additional ventures, I’ve had to add cards for each. Luckily, I haven’t needed to use multiple cards for these ventures … yet!

As you view your own business interactions, consider the roles that you play in the world. A business card is part of a first impression. Perhaps you can be more effective by having people look at you by more than just your job title.

I’d love to know your opinions?