Business cards are like dinosaurs: They’re dead.
I have some business cards. They sit in my bag when I travel. I used to have them in my pocket, and I would hand them out to people when I met them in person, but those muscles atrophied during COVID, and it’s proven difficult to get them back in shape.
People don’t hand out business cards anymore, and I think that’s OK. They were a necessary element of business in the “olden” days, but you can quickly and easily connect with someone on LinkedIn now and engage with them there rather than via email.
Plus, business cards were a waste of paper. They were printed in mass and had to be changed when your title changed, or your role was updated. I’ve probably thrown out a thousand cards over the years (likely more) and been personally responsible for killing at least one full oak tree.
I prefer making a digital connection to someone I meet at a conference or event. Then I can follow up with them about a topic and see what they think about other related topics by reading their activity feed. You can see what kinds of groups they are involved in and how they spend their time. In fact, I find reading those activities and news feeds to be a great way of getting inspiration for topics and ideas that may be of interest to me. Doing so has allowed me to curate a pretty interesting and engaging news feed of my own on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn used to be a forced requirement of the professional week, but these days I actually find it useful. It’s more inviting and engaging than it used to be, and I think its because of the time I spent actually curating my feed.
I am admittedly connected to more people on LinkedIn than I should be. Over the years my understanding for the role LinkedIn would play changed. Many people connected to me because of this column or when I spoke at events. I looked at my connections as a game to build volume. These days I get contacted by people looking to see if I can facilitate a connection, but I don’t always have that personal relationship.
In more recent years, I focused on executive level contacts, or contacts from companies I wanted to get to know. I’ve found that to be more useful. Most recently, I focused on people who say or write about things I find valuable, and that has curated my feed a little more. I still get random outreaches from people, and I do try to be helpful, but mostly LinkedIn has transformed for me into an educational environment, shifting away from having been a B2B marketing and announcement environment.
LinkedIn feels like it has matured in a way that not all other social media platforms have done. Many are still trying to drive pageviews, while LinkedIn feels like it is trying to surface value from connections. There’s still the general nonsense where salespeople reach out to me with no true insight, but I am willing to accept that for a basic solution that brings me joy and value on a daily basis.
I wonder how you all look at LinkedIn and the value (or lack thereof) it presents?