You’ve probably asked yourself this question. Business cards have been around for at least 500 years, but the issue is why they persist in the digital age.
The Chinese, who invented calling cards, are crazy about them, as are the Japanese. So are Americans. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg briefly used a business card printed with “I’m CEO, bitch” before he grew up.
Part of the continued existence of business cards has to do with social bonds: You break bread with business associates, play sports with them and serve on boards with them. The more computers figure in our business lives, the more we need tactile reminders of other people.
Another reason is trust. Leaders have to work harder at establishing trust with people they’ve met over the phone or the Web. This is especially true in global business. Business cards are a quick proxy for trust.
Finally, business cards are a tangible reminder that you’ve met someone, not just Googled them.
— Adapted from “On the cards,” Schumpeter, The Economist.