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What to put on my business card?
Thread poster: ecuatraddesign
ecuatraddesign
United States
Local time: 20:33
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jan 26, 2004

I need to order some business cards for myself and I am wondering what I need to put on it exactly, besides my name, address, phone number, e-mail, etc. Do I need to put specializations, languages I work from/into, etc., or would that be too much information for a small business card? Any tips or samples would be appreciated.
Thank you!
Paul


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Olga Simon  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 02:33
English to Russian
+ ...
A suggestion Jan 26, 2004

(logo) Your name
Certified translator English >Spanish
( interpreter, DTP specialist etc.)
Address telephone
e-mail


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Olga Simon  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 02:33
English to Russian
+ ...
Formating problem Jan 26, 2004

Interesting, all formating disappeared. What I suggested was to put your name and the languages (below your name) in the center, your address on the left and your phone number and e-mail address on the right.

Some people do not bother giving addresses, you can use that space for something else (specialization for example), although I think that for a business card there is enough information already, it does not have to be a mini-brochure.


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Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:33
German to English
+ ...
Excellent question. Jan 26, 2004

Great question Paul!

Besides the obvious info, I think it is a good idea to at least put your language pairs. I see you're located in the U.S.; suppose you meet someone at COMDEX. You give them your business card, one of 100 they receive that day. How are they supposed to remember what it is that you do, if it doesn't say specifically?

So I think you need to say that you do translations, and (e.g.) from English, to and from Spanish (and whatever other languages). That is definitely not too much information. I might include very general specializations, like technical translations, literary translations, etc. Ideally you would cite a web page on your card, which would be the first place people would look to scope you out (and where you might list more specific specializations, like SP --> EN insurance, medical, or whatever it is you specialize in).

Olga wrote:
Some people do not bother giving addresses, you can use that space for something else..

This I find a bit weird. Whenever I stumble across a web page/business card without an address, I am immediately suspicious. Who is it I am doing business with? Your image as a businessperson is very important, so even if you work from home, I would include address, phone, fax, etc. i.e. as much information as possible.

In the big picture, I use my business card to establish my identity as a legitimate business and attract attention to my web page, where I then attempt to "land" the big fish.

Not sure I have en exemplary business card, but I'd be happy to mail/email you my format.

Kind regards,
Michele


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Atenea Acevedo  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:33
English to Spanish
+ ...
"Two sides to everything" Jan 27, 2004

Hi, all,

My business card shows my name, phone number and e-mail addresses on the front (not including a postal address is not considered fishy on my side of the world), and reads the following on the back (in Spanish):

Graduate Studies in International Relations
Working Languages: English and Spanish
Translator
Interpreter
Proofreader
Editor
Teacher
website

Printers charge double, but I've seen it work.

Cheers,
Atenea


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:33
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Don't confuse a business card with a résumé. Jan 27, 2004

Remember: The business card is simply a small reminder of who you are and what you do, with directions about how to contact you.

As such the business card should contain only your name (which may include a title), your profession, and your contact details (which could include tel, fax, mobile, e-mail and web site address). In addition you can put a small photo on it (but it's essential that you can be recognised from the photo), as well as a very brief "slogan" about your business.

Some people hand out business cards to every Jack and Jill on the street, and if that's you, then what you're carrying is actually a résumé the size of a business card. Then obviously you may wish to include more information.

[Edited at 2004-01-27 07:04]


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Atenea Acevedo  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:33
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not to every Jack and Jill... Jan 28, 2004

Samuel Murray-Smit wrote:

Remember: The business card is simply a small reminder of who you are and what you do, with directions about how to contact you.

As such the business card should contain only your name (which may include a title), your profession, and your contact details (which could include tel, fax, mobile, e-mail and web site address). In addition you can put a small photo on it (but it's essential that you can be recognised from the photo), as well as a very brief "slogan" about your business.

Some people hand out business cards to every Jack and Jill on the street, and if that's you, then what you're carrying is actually a résumé the size of a business card. Then obviously you may wish to include more information.

[Edited at 2004-01-27 07:04]


Well, that's not me anyway, but using the back side has been really helpful in terms of letting people know basic info about me. Where I live just saying "I'm a translator" usually reads as "I'm bilingual and unemployed." Sad, but true.


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invguy  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 03:33
English to Bulgarian
Good question, indeed Jan 29, 2004

Paul, I am tempted to give some rather general comments, yet I believe they would be helpful. Here we go:

A business card needs to be conceived first of all with *function* in mind. A business card is not an ID, not a CV, not a newspaper ad, not a Yellow Pages record, not a showcase of one's wit, and not an experimental canvas for one's aristic nature. Yet it can be - to a certain extent - any of these, or all of these, and more.

The primary function of this handy piece of paper is to provide the necessary information to those who wish to GET IN TOUCH WITH YOU. This is it, plain and simple - under the basic assumption that those who have taken your card are interested enough to remember who it belongs to.

The secondary function of a business card is to remind (to those who might forget) WHAT YOUR TRADE IS, plus (eventually) your professional capacity - that is, its content should unequivocally say in what way you might be useful for them, plus (eventually) give some proof of your reliability. Usually people browse through business cards when they *need* something. They might not remember you well, but the sole fact that they have kept your card would mean to them that you are at least worth calling.

The third (but not least important) function of a business card is to represent WHO YOU ARE. A good card always carries more than just info: it carries an image - be it a person's, or a company's image. When you look at it, you get to feel a certain atmosphere - dynamic, trustworthy, artistic, traditional, non-conformist, good-humoured, enigmatic, exciting etc. etc. In other words, a card conveys a message. Of course, this is not mandatory - you can choose to use your card merely as an information carrier, and go with a standard layout. However, giving your card a *personality* is a fairly good guarantee that it will not end up in the trash can.


Given all the above, you should decide what your card will contain by thinking first about where, when, and how it would be most convenient for you to receive other people's calls, messages, or visits. Of course, the ways of contact that you suggest should be convenient for the caller, too. If you are to be contacted as a company employee, you'd need your office phone and address, plus fax, e-mail, sometimes telex, depending on the established routines in your company. If you add your home or personal mobile number, it would mean that you are available also after working hours. If you are a freelancer working from home, you would give your home number, with or without your address (depending on whether you receive clients at home, or whether you communicate often through snail mail). Etc.

For instance, my card contains only my mobile number and e-mail. Through these, getting in touch with me is guaranteed: I never switch off my mobile, and I check my e-mail several times a day. Else, I am a freelancer, and work from my home office; however, I travel a lot, so I receive clients' visits only after making an appointment. Clients do like that brief and clear info, so this model has proved to work for me; might be inadequate for someone else, though.

As for your trade and capacity, it should be presented in a relevant manner. If your degree is important for your clients, include it with your name; if it isn't - don't. ABC, Professor in English Literature, University of XYZ, wouldn't necessarily mean that you are a translator - you might be a scientist, or a literary critic, or an author of dictionaries etc. Never include redundant information, or phrases/acronyms that might confuse the (typical) reader... of course, unless you *want* to sound a bit confusing Think about what people would *expect* and/or *need* to read on your card - but without attempting to squeeze in everything that someone, at some point, might eventually find helpful.

Also, do not try to impress people through your card; rather, try to assist them. As I noted, it's first of all a functional item, not an ad poster.

Basic rule: discard any content that is not 100% necessary, or is only partly relevant to your business. This is not your complete personal file, it's just the tag. If someone wants to know more, they have your contact info. An overly busy or wordy card is teasing.

In what refers to the card's 'personality', this is a design matter. You may, or may not have a logo; your card may be in one, two, three, or full colour; might be single- or double-sided; might be on standard, or fancy paper; might use various technologies like embossing, foil printing, thermography; etc. The choice of typeface(s) alone is a very powerful tool. Typefaces are like people - each one has its own character, its own radiation; and, just like with people, its character can be fully revealed only when you put it in a suitable (in this case, graphic) environment. But I digress...

It should also be taken into account that there are different (either written or unwritten) norms in different geographic regions and business environments - referring to both content and design. In some places, double-sided bilingual (mirror design) cards are the norm, elsewhere they are considered tacky; there are regions where gold foil bordered cards are a sign of prestige, and others where this is a no-no. Examples abound.


Well, maybe I ought to clarify that am a graphic designer/art director by trade, and have designed hundreds of business cards for a wide variety of clients. Basing on this experience, I can confidently say that there are no hard and fast rules, and it could be a serious mistake if you borrow a scheme that works *for someone else*, assuming that it would automatically work for you, too.

My advice:

1) Carefully select the info that you think should be included in your card. Write it down.
2) Get in touch with a designer (preferably, someone you can meet F2F). Tell them briefly about your business environment. Let them get a feeling about what kind of person you are, and what general message you want to convey to your clients. Ask them to do several drafts for you. Discuss the drafts with them, and listen to their reasoning and recommendations. Make your choice. Let them handle the printing for you, or ask them to recommend a printer.
3) Never, ever, try to end up with a one-size-fits-all type of business card. What works for your clients is, as a rule, quite different from what works for your personal contacts. Of course, the world would not fall apart if you gave your 'business business card' to someone you met during your vacation up in the mountains... yet better have two card versions. Not that much of an expense, but definitely worth it.


HTH... and sorry for the length. I do not pretend to have exhausted the topic, though


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Catherine Howard
United States
Local time: 20:33
Portuguese to English
+ ...
community spirit Jan 31, 2004

Hi invguy -- It's because of postings like yours that I love Proz-dot-com. The generosity of putting so much energy into giving advice on something you've specialized in to someone who is, in essence, a stranger, is fabulous. Lots of us learned from your suggestions too. Thanks!

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JuliaR
English to Spanish
+ ...
thank you Feb 7, 2004

I have just read what invguy suggests and it has also helped me because I have been thinking about it for months.

thank you!


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Annamaria Leone  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 01:33
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
Thanks a lot for your tips Feb 10, 2004

I asked something about business cards on the Italian forum some days ago, since I was wondering if they could be useful, and your advice is very helpful for me.

Thanks

Annamaria


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:33
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Also use the right language Feb 16, 2004

Sure, if you're in the US, English or Spanish is usually good, but in Europe, you can have all sorts of clients, and Dutch business cards don't work with French clients...

So one final tip: which language will your customers speak?


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Larisa Migachyov
United States
Local time: 17:33
Russian to English
double-sided? Jun 16, 2004

I've been thinking about printing up some business cards for myself with the following feature: all my information on one side in English (name, language pair, address, phone, blah blah), and on the other side, the same information in Russian. Maybe something to the effect of "turn this card over" on the English side and something similar on the Russian side.

Also, printing it on very bright-colored paper (hot pink, neon yellow, lime green) is a good (though tasteless) way to get it noticed.


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