If you’re like me, you meet someone and talk business, then you take their business card before you leave. “Hey, give me your card! We should have coffee sometime!” You exchange cards and go on about your way. Think about the next time you call that person.
Oh, wait! If you’re like me, you never call the person again! No, instead, several months later when you’re clearing out your George Costanza-sized wallet, you see a stash of old business cards – most of them faded and unreadable in places from the creases – and you wonder, Who the heck are these people?
Now, granted, I’m a pack rat, and I do hold onto stuff. But say you’re not a pack rat. Non-pack rats will go home, realize they’ll never call the person on the card again, and throw the card out.
This is disturbing for multiple reasons: Cost of printing (those business cards aren’t free, you know), environmental (how many of those business cards have you distributed?). Most of all, though, it’s the shame of a missed opportunity: a missed opportunity for a potentially great friendship or business contact (and let’s face it, in these tough economic times, having both is the best).
So what if you knew that no one would ever throw away your business card again? Are you intrigued? And what if you could know that your business card might be looked at over and over and over again? I’m not talking about graphic design. I’m not talking about welding your card onto someone’s dashboard. And I’m not talking about buckoos of cash! Some of you may know where I’m going with this, and I’ll go ahead and say it: You need to write a book!
Write a Book? Me?
I knew there was a catch, you might be thinking. “What are you talking about, Thompson? I can’t write a book!” Why not? I’ve heard it said many times that everyone has a book in them.
So, what’s your story? You should write it down. And now, it’s easier (and cheaper) than ever for you to write your story – whether it’s about your company, about your passion, about your charity, about your fictional story, or about your own life and experiences (but for the sake of the business card argument, let’s stick with your business).
Why Books are the New Business Cards
Remember when I asked you to talk about that business card from the guy you met earlier in this post? You had thrown it away, right? Why is that? Because that’s what people do with business cards. More than 80 percent of people who take your business card will throw it away. And sticking it in those fish bowls at Qdoba? Forget about it! That was a whole $0.78 you’ll never get back!
But when was the last time you threw a book away? My guess is, unless you live in a Communist country, you have seldom – if ever – thrown a book away. Books don’t get thrown away. They might get sold at yard sales or to a used book store, but most people find it hard to toss something like a book.
And usually for a long time before that happens, even if that business contact doesn’t read your book immediately, she will almost certainly place it on a shelf in her office or home book case. And books that sit on shelves and bookcases get noticed. Make no mistake, they get noticed. And if your content is compelling enough, passionate enough, and your title is intriguing enough that it begs to be opened, your book WILL get read!
The Cheapest, Fastest Ways to Publish Your Books!
Okay, maybe I’ve sold you on the potential power of giving out books to your business contacts or clients, but I haven’t sold you on writing your own yet. “I don’t have that kind of time,” you might say, in which case, I can’t help you. You have to make your own time, but I can tell you, unless you are a circus performer with two Blu-Tooth headsets on and the President of the US on one of them giving you secret service commands every waking minute of the day, you have the time.
If you do decide to make the time, you may be wondering, “Don’t I have to pay for publishing? Isn’t that extremely expensive? And what if nobody reads it?”
My answers: No. No. And that really depends on how interesting your book is.
If your book is interesting, you can publish it for next to nothing. You may try a print-on-demand publisher that takes your material and prints it and distributes it only to the people who order it. I think some POD publishers extremely fast, reliable, and have great quality.
So, what’s your story?
All right, so I’ve told you my story. So, what’s yours? Have you written a business card aka a book? Have a great idea for one? Let’s talk!
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Sounds like a great idea. At the moment i think about publishing a book. But it can’t replace business cards. You would not carry copies of your book with you all the time, like you can do with business cards.
Jens, good observation. I don’t think I really meant the book as a permanent replacement for business cards. But to really get people thinking differently about getting their info out there. I would keep a well-designed card, but have some copies of your book (print on demand so you don’t have to print too many) to hand out to those really strategic people or potential clients. Thanks for the comment!
Never thought about it like this. Thanks for the encouragement!
No problem, Karen! Thanks for reading it.
When I self-published my first book in 2003 I used to give it away as a business card. I also immediately had something for “back of the room” sales at my speaking engagements.
I’m going to the World Domination Summit in July. I think I may have to self-publish something new before then. It will make for an awesome connection for other bloggers.
Tess, thanks for your input! I think that’s a brilliant idea. And here’s why: when you have a BOOK about something, it automatically presents you as being an expert in your field. Even if you don’t think you are, others are likely to gravitate toward you because you know enough about what you’re talking about to have written a book on it! Great to see you here!
Love the idea! I do have one question. As we move toward more and more digital publishing, do you think that e-books have the same value? And if not, do you think they will in the future? Haven’t found my book in a dumpster yet…
Burl, great question. And I’d say that if you’re into ebook publishing and seizing that market, GO all out ebooks. But I’d keep a few copies on hand via a print-on-demand publisher just for those business-building occasions.
What do you think?
Great post, Bryan! Very creative. I think for most people, time is not the only factor that prevents them from getting their thoughts out to the world; it’s also the mental and financial investment. But, this is definitely “food for thought.”
So should I put you down for 1 order? 🙂
Jennifer, ha ha! Put me down for one. I’ll read it. If you make an audiobook, even better for audible junkies like me. 🙂
What an interesting article Bryan. I started reading without expecting where it was going. It was a pleasant surprise.
Question: how do you carry and hand out your books to people at networking events? Wouldn’t it be odd if I said “Hi, I’m Tina. Here’s a free book for you!” 🙂
Here’s another example of when title and design (ie. bright colors for book cover) will really help. It’ll determine if your book will be read or not. But yes, you’re right, I rarely throw books out, but cards, they usually end up in the trash.
Thanks Tina. You bring up a good point. And I think it’s learning to work smarter, not harder. This may be a good WA topic in itself, but if you’re like most business people, 80% of your business comes from 20% of your clientele. That’s how it always has worked for me.
Maybe that means having SOME business cards, but putting more emphasis on the relationships we build with big potential clients or business partners. And as we talk more with those strategic people, we get a sense of where they are. Then you could say something like, “Thanks for your input. Hey, I wrote some thoughts on X and I’d love it if you’d read it and give me your thoughts on it.”
Any ideas you have?
I too was surprised by where the article went. It was a great and wonderful surprise though.
You’re right, I rarely throw away a book either while business cards do end up in the trash.
I’m just about to publish my 4th book. My first three are all digital and one is an Amazon best seller. This fourth book will be be a physical book that I can give a way as my big business card. I’m looking forward to holding the book in my hands.
Angela, congrats on all your book success! An Amazon Bestseller! That’s amazing!
I can tell you that there will be a sense of pride that comes from seeing your words in a printed book. It’s great to be part of the digital revolution, but you’ll love the printed part, too! Thanks so much for joining me here at WorkAwesome, Angela!
Nice engaging write up and the twist. Agree totally, today’s business card is online and search engines are the index. When I go to interviews I make sure my online profiles are up-to-date and with relevant to the interview content. Well I bet my chances will be much better when recruiter will hit a book authored by when researching on me online. You got me thinking!
Alik, thanks so much for the kind words, man. I agree with the online business card thing. So true. The world is going paperless (except for that printed book you’re going to give away, right? wink) but there’s room for so much adventure out there!
I struggled with this very dilemma last year prior to a conference I was attending.
I knew I needed a new business card for my new business I was growing (still growing), but I didn’t want a typical boring card; after all, I wasn’t building a typical boring business.
I vowed to make my business card as useful as a business card could be (within my budget).
I’m building an online community of professionals who choose to work from Coffee shops on any given day of the week, either full- or part-time.
The business card I created was a 3-sided call to action (to join) with a tone evocative of coupon. The front offers a sit-down with me at a coffee shop (I buy the coffee) to chat about anything, and the 4th side (the back) is a cut ‘n’ fold business card stand for anyone to use while working from their favorite coffee shop.
I don’t even care if it’s used. I can assure you, it’s rarely thrown away, if at all…
My advice to you folks…if a book is not in your future, create something else relevant to you and your business. Stay away from boring and typical.
Here’s a link to images of my business card: http://www.thecoffice.biz/?page_id=167
Chief Executive Cofficer
Hi Sam! Thanks for joining the discussion! I agree: even if it isn’t a book, make it something unforgettable. Remarkable! Sounds like you’re well on your way!
I say, “WHY NOT”….. We all have a story and experiences so why not write these stories down.
On my website I have a section called “Your Voice” – I did this for others to share their stories for you never know what life you will touch by YOUR story…
Thanks for the encouragement and I have written one book and starting on another….
Hi Nancy, I love that you have a section on your website to hear stories from other people. Very empathetic, which can also help you in putting yourself out there. Using creative ways to connect with people. It’s a wonderful experience!
Thanks again for your comment!
I have a fold over business card with my 10 Steps printed on the inside. People tell me they keep my card where they can see it, and they often ask me for more cards to give to friends. So maybe having something besides contact info on your card is another way to encourage people to keep it.
Galen, sometimes I wonder if having ONE contact method (email or phone) and making the rest of what you give away so compelling that it begs to search for more info. In fact, I’d likely go with just a web address and a QR code.
Your post has given me the courage to keep going with my “business card”…. Thanks,
Thanks Alex! I’m excited to see how it all turns out! Appreciate it!
Bryan, great idea! I certainly didn’t see it coming. Yes, giving people useful information is much more memorable than a name and phone number/email.
For those with ebooks, maybe have a unique-looking card with a picture of the ebook cover on the card with the URL and a catchy phrase (i.e. solve their problem) to make people want to visit the site.
In my heavy networking days as a finance executive, I usually made myself memorable by actually calling people to have coffee/lunch with them after I met them briefly at an event. When I met with them I usually avoided talking business and, instead, asked them about their passions and dreams. People love to talk about those kinds of things because it allows us to connect as real people instead of the personas we create for work.
Paige, I like the “solve a problem” approach. Quick and catchy. That’s the spirit! Thanks so much for your comment! And I love how you keep the focus on the people you’re with. That’s what it’s all about!
I have to admit I’m not totally a fan of this idea for a couple of reasons, but it certainly was a novel idea. Here are my struggles:
If someone doesn’t throw it away, but they never read it, is that NOT considered a waste of paper?
You mention that people will think you are an expert even though you may not think you are (which to me implies that you are not), so it seems like you want people to gravitate to you for what they “think” you are and not what you are. Either way it seems insincere and ultimately the books content will tell people all they need to know about you.
Hi Joe. I appreciate your disagreements and you bring some good thoughts to the table.
To answer your first question, would it be a waste of paper? Well, possibly or possibly not? You’ll spend $200 on business cards that 95% of which are statistically shown not to bring in new business, even if they raise awareness. You can publish a book for far less and give strategic copies away (not to everyone, and that doesn’t mean you couldn’t have cards to give away just for name recognition).
To answer the other question about expertise. Let me clarify: this doesn’t mean you’re an idiot on the subject. It just means that experts get that title because they read and write about their subject. A lot! You’re not going to write a book about a subject you know nothing about. And on that subject, I’ve known of several authors who write on their subject and years later have entirely different opinions on the matter.
Either way, writing a book is a lot of work and can be risky. But it can’t hurt to try something new. And either way, I appreciate the comment! Have a great day!
My book/business card, 62 Posts to Overcome Blogger’s Block, will be published this month! Thanks for sharing these tips.
With me i can Thrown Away business cards. Because when i get any business cards, i store them on iphone forever. I keep more thousands of business cards on Iphone now
You can see http://cardfila.com/ for more information