Metal Card! I Choose You!

I was at GDC when I ran into a gentleman discussing a hard truth about programming – that a game developer (and I'd say any developer) should get some experience in computer languages that get their "hands dirty" as opposed to doing all the work for them.  .NET, Java, Flash, etc. are all good, but a little experience with C, C++, or gods help you assembly will quickly teach you the reality of technology.

(For those of you not initiated to the mysteries of programming, simply there are some languages that do a lot of work for the programmer such as managing memory, etc.  Other languages give you finer control over what you do, but also expose you to the guts of the operating system and things like managing memory, accessing resources, and more.)

The gentleman I talked to then gave me his business card.

It was made of metal with his name, email address, and website printed on it.

Yes.  His business card was made of metal.

This made quite an impression on me, and it illustrates an important point of business cards and any "promotional material" that you may use in your career networking and general networking.

That point is you want to be memorable in a good way.  A few-cent business card from an office supply store, though indeed good and cheap (and many stores have fantastic deals and cards), is very generic no matter what you do.  You may need them because you need bulk business cards, but they don't make the impression that, say . . . a business card made of metal does.

If you want to be remembered, make sure that your business card – and everything else have something that makes them stand out so you're remembered.  Make an impression, have an impact – do something that makes someone pause (as I did) and go "cool!"

In the case of the metal business card, it had several effects right away:

  • It showed concern with standing out.  The person with them did not want to be generic or hide behind standard process.
  • It showed that person thought I was worth handing what was obviously an expensive business card too.  That makes an impression.
  • It showed creativity and imagination.  It says to people you think out of the box.
  • It showed initiative.  This person wasn't going to follow the pack, they did something different.

All in a few moments that single card told me a lot.

So when you design your business cards, ask how you can stand out.  Check those options.  Spend that extra money.  You want to make an impression.

A few other variants I've seen beyond the card are:

  • Trading cards.  I've seen trading card style business cards in several places and several formats and they always make an impact.  I even saw one company have them come in packs with gum.
  • Instructional.  I've seen business cards done with trivia on them, information, statistics, and so on – almost like flash cards on one side.  These make an impact as people  see the information on one side, then read the other side.  An example of this would be having one side display statistics on network security issues – and on the other side information on a network security company or expert.
  • Micro-portfolio.  If you're an artist, make sure your art is on your card and you show it off.  Try cards with different art pieces on them, and you can hand people a mini portfolio with several cards.
  • Unusual cuts or sizes – these may or may not work depending on your goal, but they can be impressive if done right.  I've seen them shorter, longer, done like sticks of gum, have unusual shapes and cuts, etc.
  • Unusual materials – Well, like, you know – metal.  Even if you're not feeling metallurgical, pick a different paper, get a glossy card, etc.

Go on.  Rethink that business card.  Be memorable.

Oh and the gentleman who had the metal business card?  John Romero.  Yet, even if he hadn't been such a well known name, I'd remember him now, because of the business card.

– Steven Savage