Are Business Cards Still Relevant?

Coming back from my third time at the Consumer Electronics Show, I started to wonder whether physical business cards were still relevant.

If I had already been in contact with this person via e-mail in the past and each of us have our appropriate contact information in our e-mail signatures, is it still necessary to exchange business cards when we meet one another in person? Do we follow through with this tradition of etiquette?

Entering the Digital Age

As you may already know, I had a batch of business cards created for my freelance writing business, even though the vast majority of my communication is done online. In fact, I haven’t met many of clients in person at all, relying largely on Twitter, instant messengers, and e-mail exchanges. For a business like mine, business cards aren’t quite as necessary, but I am glad that I do have some when the right situation arises.

If I am meeting someone for the first time and there is a possibility that we may work with one another in the future, I may be inclined to share business cards with this person. This way, we each have a physical reminder and we can proceed to work with one another at some point.

Follow-Up and Follow-Through

If this is my intention, I try my best to send a follow-up email a day or two after the trade show (or whatever event) where we met, re-introducing myself and letting him or her know that I am available for such-and-such a service.

Yes, it is very easy to refer potential clients to my digital business card, but the tradition of “paper” business cards still very much exists and they are still very much relevant. I have long since abandoned the fax machine, but paper business cards are still a very valuable tool for the purposes of networking and exchanging contact information.

What do you think? Do you still exchange physical business cards?