There has been a lot of buzz lately about the demise of the business card. It has become trendy to announce to people that you do not carry business cards, as they are "so yesterday" or that you are doing this to save the environment.
The thing is that if you are doing away with business cards for a legitimate business reason, that is great (not sure of what that would be???). If you are doing it because it seems trendy and cool, that is lame.
Many people seem to be taking the "anti-business card" stance to send a message that they have evolved beyond traditional business norms. In reality they just like to be "contrarian". I am a huge fan of finding ways to be unique, but I am not sure that avoiding business cards really helps you in the long run.
When networking, you want to make it easy for the other person to remember you at a later date. If you don't carry cards it might make it harder for them to remember your name or company a few days later. They knew they liked you, but now have no idea how to reach you. Alas, this might lead to a missed opportunity.
If it takes an effort to locate you, they will simply turn to your competition if they already know them.
If a young professional sees some famous and cool tech exec say "I don't carry business cards" they will think that is acceptable. Sure, for the seasoned person whose name is known it might work just fine, but not for everyone.
Some people claim they forgo the cards for environmental reasons (I believe them if they drive a Prius and buy carbon credits). However, there are lots of companies who make recycled paper for business cards, so this does not seem to stand up by itself. (I am not sure that the woes of the planet are caused by the number of business cards in circulation, but if someone has the statistics of how many trees a year are cut down for business cards, please enlighten me!)
The idea in networking is to make connections that can lead to mutually beneficial relationships. Meeting someone one time does NOT make them part of your network. Meeting them once makes them a stranger who you once met. If you really care about developing a connection, you want to make it easy for the other person whenever possible.
I do know people who don't carry cards because they just keep forgetting to put them in their wallet or purse. Of course, they don't want to admit this, as it sends a message to others that they are not very prepared (not a good message to those you might wish to do business) -- so they make up a story about not being in favor of having business cards.
If you have a great system to always follow up and get your info to the other person, great - do it all day long. The problem I see is that people are lousy with follow up. They say "give me your card and I will send you my information", but they never take the action to do that. This means they fail to connect and they lie to the people they meet.
I by no means think that business cards the only way. But they do serve a purpose of getting both parties the necessary contact information to follow up. If one person does not have a card, it might work for you to follow up with an email, but if neither person has a card, how will you do it?
Not having a card could lead to a missed opportunity. While it is fun to be trendy,... actually doing things that lead to mutually beneficial opportunities (by which I mean: business, jobs, deals, money, etc...) is better.
I think people who don't carry business cards are just trying to be cooler than I am. Or, maybe I am an old fart and they ARE way cooler than I am!!! (Heck, I have been wrong before!)
Have A Great Day.