Do you have stacks of business cards? Come on, you can tell me. If you're like most busy home business entrepreneurs, you're most likely one short stack away from wallpapering at least one wall of your home office with them.
Business cards are a necessary tool, as I'm sure you have found with your own. The problem is when you can't find the one you are looking for, and the stacks are covering the vast majority of your workspace. Not good.
Handling business cards is one of the most popular questions among seekers of home office organization guidance. I've got a few tricks up my sleeve, but before we talk about organizing your stacks, let's first talk about what "organized" means. "Organized" merely means you can find most anything you need in about five minutes. What that looks like for you and someone else will vary.
With this in mind, let's talk about some ways to keep your business cards organized.
1. File Them Electronically
The contact database you use is really not important. There are lots of great products out there (Outlook, Google Apps, etc.), so pick the one that works for you. As you get business cards, input them into your database, noting any details about the person that will jog your memory about them. If you would like to keep an image of the business card, use a scanner to capture it.
*Bonus Tip: When you meet someone, ask them if it would be alright to take their picture for your database. Snap a quick headshot of them on your camera phone and email it to yourself. Upload it to their record and voila! A visual reminder.
2. Have Less of Them
It's much easier to organize less stuff. I get a little fired up seeing a certain commercial that touts a product as the answer to not having enough space. I happen to believe there is an easier answer: to pare down what you already have.
You'll spend way less time (and money) getting it all lined up. Make sense? The whole point of a business card (or contact card) is to use the information it contains. Once you have documented that, you're welcome to recycle the card. If you must keep them, use a ...
3. Business Card Binder: Keep the Cards if You Must
If there are some cards you must keep, or some you wish to hand out as referrals later on, keep them in a binder. Again, the product choices are endless, so pick your favorite. Ideally choose a binder with movable pages so you can rearrange when (not if) it becomes necessary.
4. Stay on Top of Them
Follow a paper management system, such as the Action Paper Management system described in a prior article in this Home Office Organization series. Following a system in a methodical manner makes it easy to stay on top of your collection of business cards.
If you hate data entry, task it out to an intern or virtual assistant. Whether it's you or someone else, stay on top of organizing your business cards. When you need that widget-maker's name and number, you'll know right where to find it.
5. Don't Be Part of the Problem
Only give (and take) business cards when you need them. Lastly, don't become a business card pusher. Nothing's worse than a business card shoved in your hand, which you didn't want in the first place. If you really need your newfound contact's information, by all means, take their card. If not, don't.
See, one less card to organize, right?