Are Business Cards Obsolete?

Over the past few days, I’ve been excited to bump into colleagues and friends as the convention gets underway. My former colleague and friend, LaTesha, is a native of New Orleans and is “wo-manning” the TESOL Raffle booth. It was great to catch up with her as she waved us over in the registration hall. Another good friend and former colleague, Therese, has come in from Norway, a lucky recipient of a TESOL Professional Development Scholarship. She’s a teacher at the Oslo International School and is interested in sessions on literacy issues and co-teaching between ESL and content teachers in the elementary setting. Last night, Carly, who is the West Coast recruiter for the English Language Fellow program, arrived, and we hung out in her hotel room going over the online session schedule and trying to figure out the must-see sessions for Thursday. Call us TESOL geeks if you must.

The other great thing about this conference is the chance to meet new colleagues who share similar interests and challenges. So, what do you do to keep in touch with these new connections? My university provides me hundreds of business cards to distribute. And as long as I remember to bring them with me, I can. But it all seems a bit old-fashioned in 2011 to be swapping business cards, doesn’t it? I’ve just discovered a feature of LinkedIn’s iPhone app that allows you to swap information with another iPhone owner via Bluetooth. Another smartphone app called Bump lets you tap phones with a colleague and exchange information. I haven’t tried that one, but it sounds pretty cool. And coincidentally, I just read an article in the airline magazine on my way here about conferences that issue a device called the Poken. Attendees wear the Poken on a lanyard, and it has a little hand that you high-five with someone else to exchange your social media data. Still trying to wrap my head around that one.

Of course, if you are more comfortable with the traditional route, you can visit the Business Center at the convention, and they will print you 100 business cards for $35.00. Regardless of your method, I hope you have the opportunity to meet and learn from many colleagues, both old and new, this year at the convention.

About pszasz

Patricia Szasz is the Director of Intensive English Programs at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. In addition to overseeing a variety of English language programs for international students, Patricia is fortunate enough to teach graduate courses in language pedagogy on campus. She currently serves on the board of the California/Nevada affiliate, CATESOL, as Level Chair for Intensive English Programs. Her professional interests include language program administration, leadership, technology-enhanced language learning, project-based learning, and intercultural communication. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, reading, traveling and taking walks along the beautiful California coast with her dog Henry.
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2 Responses to Are Business Cards Obsolete?

  1. Joe McVeigh says:

    Patricia, you may be right that business cards are old-fashioned. But I still like them, and I still use them. Even in the U.S. there is a certain ritual to exchanging cards. It makes a statement. It says, “Hmm. You are an interesting person. Maybe we should communicate or collaborate on something in the future.” It’s also a tangible reminder about the person. I usually write something on the back about the person to remind me of how we met and what we talked about. Then I have them handy by my desk at home when I need to do some networking or get back in touch.

    I am trying something new this year, though. On the back of my cards I’ve printed a QR response code. It looks kind of like a square barcode. If someone has a smartphone with a bar code reader, then can scan the code, and the address of my website will come up. They can then tap on the link and go straight there. The challenge with this kind of technological innovation is that not everyone knows how to use it. But perhaps, as you suggest, we’ll all be exchanging information electronically in the future!

  2. Sandra Rogers Sandra Rogers says:

    Hi Patricia,

    If both owners have a BlackBerry smartphone, they can take a picture of the QR app to enable text messaging between the numbers. QR stands for Quick Reader; it looks like a barcode but all squiggly. That’s a great way to keep in touch without the long distance phone call bill.

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