One of the staples in your executive career marketing toolkit is your business card. If you are currently employed, you may be tempted to use your corporate business card to hand to your contacts as you network your way into your targeted organizations.
It feels like a small thing. After all, the business card is simply a method to track you down—your name, your contact information is all there.
However, you may want to consider investing in your own personally branded business card to use when you are networking with influencers and decision-makers.
Your brand is not your company’s brand. Only under certain circumstances do you want to be branded in your current industry and your current organization. If you are in the medical device industry currently and your plan is to transition into distributed power generation, the optics of your corporate medical device business card is that you are a medical device guy (or girl).
In spite of your impeccable qualifications as an electrical engineering executive with a pristine work history and a Rolodex of contacts in your targeted industry, you may be misread by your network.
Perception is reality and when you are automatically associated with an industry because the business card you are using has your company’s logo and its brand, your networks will have difficulty envisioning you working in their industry.
In addition, your card will likely be handed to others in your targeted organizations and there will be confusion between your brand and your employer’s brand. This is especially true if you are changing industries. You do not want to be pigeon-holed as the medical device guy when you want to become the distributed power generation guy.
Another benefit to using your own branded business cards is that you are seen as “You Inc.”, vs “ABC Company Inc.” and there are no misconceptions about your intentions. You will not want to be perceived as a person who may be trying (inadvertently) to leverage your employer’s brand to your own benefit.
If you are concerned that the corporate business card lends credibility to your “brand” think about the timing of when you provide a card to another person.
You typically provide the business card at the end of your conversation. By then you’ve delivered your carefully crafted value proposition and your contact has not automatically identified you with your current employer.
According to one expert, Dan Crowther, an online marketing consultant, he suggests in a Forbe’s article that you include your photo on the card. Whether you choose to use a photo or not, having your own card will create clarity in the mind of your decision-maker forging a path to your destination faster.