Most business people collect hundreds, if not thousands of business cards every year. Some of these business cards end up in their wallets, some stashed away under their car seats, and some left on kitchen counters. If you’re one of these people and want to learn how to efficiently organize business cards once and for all, keep reading.
Although storing hundreds of business cards can seem like a daunting task, it’s often quite simple if you know the right way.
Download an App for Scanning Business Cards
Long gone are the days where you would hoard around your book filled with business cards. I mean, people still do, but there really are better ways to organize business cards. The best and most convenient way to store business cards in the modern age is to scan them using your phone.
There are plenty of business card scanning apps out there and some are even free. Most of them will scan your business card and convert it into a digital format automatically. This means you’ll be able to save them as contacts directly on your phone. You can also view the original business card by looking at the image of the card you scanned. The popular apps will also allow you to export contacts into Outlook, Salesforce and many other platforms.
This is by far the best and most convenient way to store and organize business cards. If the business card has a vCard QR code on it, even better. You can simply scan the QR code to automatically import the contact into your phone.
Use a Business Card Scanner
Business card scanners are similar to traditional document scanners, except they are smaller and can do optical character recognition (OCR). These devices were once very popular before smartphones became widely available. They are still useful, but the downside is that you can’t just carry them around and scan cards instantly like you can with a phone.
Although these devices are slowly being replaced by smartphone apps, they are still much more efficient than keeping a stockpile of physical cards inside a binder or shoebox! Business card scanners offer similar features to the apps, where they automatically create digital copies of business cards and import them into your Outlook contacts.
Keep Photos of Business Cards on your Smartphone
If using third-party app’s on your smartphone isn’t your thing, you could always simply take photos of business cards as you get them and store them in a separate album in your photo gallery. That way, you’ll know where to find them, if needed.
Don’t forget to take photos of both the front and back of the business card, as you don’t want to miss any important details. Although this isn’t an ideal way to store business cards as you cannot categorize or order them in any way, it still works for some people and is 100% free.
Buy a Business Card Book
This is a bit of an old fashioned way of organizing business cards, but it still works if you don’t have too many of them to store. The problem with business card books (or binders) is that you either have to bring them to every business event you go to or remember to put your collected cards in there afterwards. This can be a huge hassle for many people, and if you’re anything like me, I lose a business card within about 5 minutes of receiving it.
If you prefer to keep physical business cards rather than scanning them to your phone, a binder is probably the best way to go. You can also buy refills if you run out of pages and need to store more business cards. Don’t forget to set aside a page per letter of the alphabet to organize the business cards, otherwise, you might be shuffling business cards around when you need to insert a new one.
Purchase a Business Card Case
Most office supplies stores have business card cases you can buy, which include dividers so you can organize the cards in whichever order you want. Most of them hold up to around 600 business cards which is more than enough for most people.
The good thing about these cases is that the business cards are all stored quite close together which means the cases are quite small. Most of them are also adjustable to fit different size cards.
Use a Rotary Business Card File
Similar to a business card book, a rotary business card file (or rolodex) simply sorts your business cards in a rolling cylinder which makes it easy to find your cards. The downside is that it looks a bit old school and outdated, but if you don’t mind that, it’s a good alternative to a book.
The upside is that it can just sit on your desk and you can easily roll through contacts. You can also sort them alphabetically and have dividers so its easier to find the card you’re looking for.
Sort Your Business Cards in a Box
Yep…this is the last option when all other options are just too hard. This is when you’re so busy that you can’t even find the time to organize your business cards. If you’ve reached this stage, at least try to keep all your business cards in one place, such as a shoebox. That way if one day you need to contact someone, at least you know where to look.
This method could somewhat work if you’re one of those people who remembers people by the color of their business card. If you can, try and use another way to store your business cards before resorting to “the box method”.
A Few Things to Consider When Organizing Business Cards
Physical vs Digital Storage
Business cards have been around for a long time, since the 17th century to be specific. In all this time, they haven’t changed all that much. Sure, maybe the print quality is getting better and there’s an array of different finishes that are available, but the concept of how business cards are stored remains the same.
This doesn’t have to be the case since we have OCR scanners which can digitize written content and make it accessible on electronic devices. You should consider if you prefer to keep physical business cards, or if you’re happy to scan them using an app or business card scanner and keep digital versions.
The Order of the Business Cards
The most common way to order business cards is by name. However, some people order them by company name, job position, and even location. How you order your business cards depends entirely on your job and how you need to access your contacts.
Whichever way you choose to order your cards, it should be the way that works best for you. If you prefer to order your cards by their color, then so be it. People think in different ways, so whichever way helps you remember the name, position or company name of the person you’re looking for, use it!
How Long To Keep Business Cards
Keeping old and stale contacts might seem like a good idea at first, but it just causes frustration when you’re trying to find a business card. Ensure you spend some time every now and then cleaning up the contacts you’ll never hear from again, or are unlikely to need in the future.
This helps keep the size of your contacts at a manageable level and also makes searching much easier, especially if you’re keeping physical business cards. A good habit to form is whenever you get a new business card from someone, try to think of someone’s business card you could remove from your list.
Personally speaking, I am a digital kind of guy, so my favorite way to keep my business cards organized is by using an app on my smartphone. You really can’t beat it for convenience and ease of use.
When someone hands me a business card, I take a look at it and admire the design and features of the card and then I whip out my phone and scan the card before I forget. That way, even if I lose the card a few minutes later, I’ve got the card details saved.
There’s nothing more embarrassing than asking for a second business card because you lost the first one. It speaks volumes about you, and being clumsy isn’t a trait that resonates well with other business people.