I was looking for the business card of a contact I made recently in India, when I realised I had the cards of many people I had totally forgotten. It made me wonder if others were thinking the same about my cards.

I am fairly selective about the cards I seek and even more so about the ones I keep. Yet here was a bunch of calling cards that might as well be blank … hmm, no it’s worse than that. I can cast aside a blank card without a second thought. But when I pick up the card of someone I had forgotten, I make a judgement about that person, a judgement that is reinforced every time I see the card.

Here’s one from an accountant. It tells me his name and the letters after it. Nothing about his speciality. The next one belongs to someone who works for a sales consultancy, but it doesn’t tell me what she does there. Here’s the Managing Director of an Essex firm that carries a slogan but not much else.

Rifling quickly through the pack I find the Marketing Manager of a financial organisation, one from a creative design agency, the owner of a wine retailer in Ireland, a consultant (no, I don’t know which kind), a pharmaceutical Director, an untitled person from a Marketing company, and one from a company whose name seems to include a claim to excellence.

But what do they do?

Now I find the cards from James and Veronika. Easy to remember them because they have their photographs on their cards, along with a few clues to the work they do.

It seems to me that business cards often miss a trick. In your absence, your card remains as the reminder that you passed this way. There might come a time when I, or someone I know, could have need of your services. If your card fails to provide enough information, you’ll miss out.

Julia is a Broadcast media journalist. That’s clear enough. Edwin’s card is classy, and proclaims him as a financial consultant dealing with high net worth people and corporates. He has defined his target market. Caroline is a solicitor specialising in Wills, Trusts and Probate Services.

Get the picture? Your business card speaks for you in your absence. Does it say the right things, or does it train others to reject you? It’s a piece of professional communication. Pass it by a communication expert, not just a designer or printer.