Joan, a follower of our weekly show, Coach’s Corner, asks: “What is the best business card you’ve ever seen that has the best impact?”

Here’s my answer to Joan:

If you attend a lot of conferences and seminars, I’m sure you’ve seen everyone running around handing out business cards. As a rule of thumb, I actually don’t have a business card. I don’t recommend having one, because as an attendee, I’ve put together dozens of my own seminars where I was the speaker for our own clients.

What happens with business cards is that you compile a big stack, then you arrive home and you never get back to them. You just put them aside and say, “Yeah, I’ll get back to them”.

From those business cards, you generally follow up with 3 to 5 people at the most per event. That’s my experience. If I think of the last 5 events I’ve attended, I’ve probably connected with 6-7 people in total. Most of them are just running around giving business cards to everyone and I think this is lame. I don’t do it and I don’t’ recommend it.

Be Perceived as the Expert

What is the best business card? I’m going to answer the question differently, because the rule of a business card is to get your business out there, right? If you have one, take it at your next event, but the best thing to give or the best first impression to make is to be perceived immediately as the expert.

The easiest way to be perceived as an expert is to write a book. You don’t need to write a 300 page book. If you can come up with a small booklet and you hand that out to other people at the event, it’s much more persuasive than coming out and just giving business cards to hundreds or thousands of people at that event.

I really recommend doing something different. Take me as an example.  I just look at what everyone is doing and I do the exact opposite. When I see 99.9% of people just running around with business cards, I actually don’t do the same and I never carry business cards with me.

The only thing I do recommend is being perceived as the expert. If you really want to network and use that game to go around, at least have something tangible. Have a book that you can give to someone, because that does a lot of things.

Convey your Authority

First of all, giving out a book instead of a business card conveys authority.  If there are 500 attendees at the event and you are the only one with a book and you’re giving out a book for free, the first impression will be nuts, because you’re the only one giving away a book and everyone will think that it’s expensive to give away books.

Sure, it will cost you about 2 to $3,000 to get a book printed for 500 to a thousand copies, but it’s an investment in your brand and it will have a great impact on people who meet you for the first time. You can say, “Hey, I wrote a book about how to lower your taxes” or “I wrote the book on how to save on electricity”. Immediately, people don’t even ask what you do, because you actually have a book.

In my experience, I’ve seen a few people doing it. I think they immediately stand out from the crowd just because they are perceived as the authority just for 2 to $3.

You’ll have an amazing first impression. The best business card I have ever seen is actually people giving out books at seminars and events. It’s the fastest way to build authority and to be perceived differently than everyone else who is just running around with business cards.