Dan and Jane return after a very long hiatus.  Inspired by Marlene’s terrific post and the impassioned discussion that it began amongst friends.

Jane: Dan!  I haven’t seen you forever.  How have you been?!

Dan: I’m sorry.  Do I know you?

Jane: It’s me, Jane.  We used to do 3 Geeks Point/Counter-point posts a couple of years ago?  You were the blowhard gasbag that was wrong about absolutely everything!

Dan: Oh! And you were the ignorant fool who incessantly contradicted me!  Yes, I remember now.  How have you been?

Jane: I’m well, I’m well.  Got promoted since we last talked.

Dan: Well, that makes sense, you do work in a law firm, right?

(Both laugh knowingly.)

Jane: I’m now the Chief Director of Innovative Solutions and Catering.  You know how things are, the firm is consolidating roles. I think I’ve got a new card in here somewhere.  Let me see…

Dan:  Oh, don’t bother. I don’t use business cards. I’ll look you up on LinkedIn.

Jane: No, no, no. It doesn’t work that way! This is a time honored tradition.  I give you a card. You give me a card. A bond is formed and we are connected.

Dan: That’s stupid. Then what do you do with all of the cards you collect?

Jane: I send LinkedIn invites to each of the people I meet and then throw away the card.

Dan: I thought you were one of those eco-terrorists, hell bent on saving the planet one tree at a time.

Jane: My cards are made of sustainable bamboo pulp, thank you very much!

Dan: I bet that costs a fortune.

Jane: It’s not cheap, but some things are worth paying more for.

Dan: At my suggestion, we did away with business cards entirely last year.  No one gets them.  We save about $800 per person per year.

Jane: But what does your firm lose in the process?

Dan: A lot of cards in the landfill?

Jane: No, you moron, in terms of good will and business relationships?

Dan: Uh…nothing?

Jane: Look, when I give you a card, I am symbolically giving you something of myself. I am quite literally trusting you with my personal identification. I am saying this is who I am and I want to share it with you. And then, you reciprocate. That creates a bond, a momentary relationship that cannot be ignored, whereas a LinkedIn invite actually has an ignore button.

Dan:  It does? Why would they do that?  The point of LinkedIn is to have as many contacts as possible. I am currently in second place in my group.

Jane: You are why they have an ignore button.

Dan: So if I take your stupid card and send you a LinkedIn invite, will you accept?

Jane: Are you asking because you want to cement our bond?

Dan: No, I’m just three contacts behind the guy in first place.

Jane: Then no.

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Photo of Ryan McClead Ryan McClead

Ryan is Principal at Sente Advisors, a legal technology consultancy specializing in cross-platform solutions and support.  He has been an evangelist, advocate, consultant, and creative thinker in Legal Technology for more than 15 years. In 2015, he was named a FastCase 50 recipient, and in 2018, he was elected a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management. In past lives, he was an Innovation Architect, Knowledge Manager, a Systems Analyst, a Fashion Merchandiser, and Theater Composer, among other things.

  • I think they both made a few points on each side, whether they meant to or not. Business cards ARE pretty outdated, but there are a lot of people out there who still use them, especially older people. I'm not sure we've completely fazed them out yet.

  • Anonymous

    With a business card exchange, I can note on a cards an item or two about a resource or idea the other person shared with me. Because we are so involved in educational courses and events during a conference, it is easier for me to remember the necessary pertinent exchange of ideas when I come back with the tangible card and then have to decide what action to take on the notation I made. Of course, I will send an e-mail follow-up and when they reply just add the contact as necessary. Noting things on an iPad or cell phone while talking to someone is more intrusive and interrupts the easy flow/exchange of ideas more than just pulling out a pen and scribbling or jotting a notation. Of course, I also carry small, unobtrusive notebooks, roughly just a little larger than business card size, which also come in handy – especially if a person I meet is one who does not carry a card. I may be an older person. And, in some cultures, exchange of business cards is still an expected formality.

  • Very funny. There is a transition happening here for certain—one decidedly away from the custom of cards. They are going the way of the fax machine, but at the same time there is something personal about looking through the stack of cards I find in my top drawer. The stack often inspires ideas and connects me to physical places and conversations that could just as easily be forgotten.