Thursday, January 25, 2007

photos on business cards

Joe Wirtley (a CodeMash attendee) blogged an appeal for folks to include a photo of themselves on their blogs. I think it's a great idea - this weird bloggy world of electronic chatter is the most useful when we keep it linked to the world of flesh-and-blood. It's a shame to think that I've probably walked right past people at conferences whose writings I knew well.

I'm thinking of taking the appeal a step further. I love being able to recognize people and call them by name. Unfortunately, I'm a nerd, and I'm not very good at it. I struggle to find techniques to empower my socially deficient brain. Often, after I get someone's business card, I rush away to jot notes on the back - notes about what they're involved in and what we talked about, but also notes on their appearance. This is a desperate attempt to enable myself to recognize them the next time we meet, probably months or years in the future. The trouble is, a few phrases like "tall; curly hair" or "beard, glasses" really aren't enough.

I fantasized today about buying a cameraphone, snapping a photo of each person I meet, then finding a tag-based filing tool so that I could store the photos with the people's names and keywords about where I'm likely to see them again. Then, before arriving at an event, I could review the photos of people I'd be likely to see there; when I arrived, I'd call out to them by name and feel so cool.

Now, just imagine if somebody gave me a business card with their picture on it. Wow! I'd be so grateful! It would short-circuit this entire dilemma!

It's almost time for me to get new cards printed, and I could lead this incredibly useful trend by putting my own photo on them. Except... I'm nervous that it will come across funny, like I'm a wannabe model or something. Traditionally, geeks are supposed to imagine themselves as not really even having faces, as just being disembodied intelligences free-floating in the ether. The thing is, that's really not a useful myth. Talking to each other - face-to-face when we can - has very real value.

Maybe I should go ahead and do it anyway, and not worry about what people think. Maybe just being "the weirdo who puts her picture on her business cards" isn't so bad - for networking purposes, being weird isn't as bad as being forgotten. It's not "goofiness", it's "branding", right?

Hmm. Opinions? Would anybody join me on this?


Michael Letterle said...

I think it's a great idea, unfortunately I have a box of 500+ business cards that still have my old title on it. I don't think the company's going to let me get any new ones any time soon :) I think the photo could go on the back, maybe off to one side so there's still a place for notes. Yes, I think that would work nicely actually.

Metlin said...

Hello, there. Stumbled upon here.

I once saw a resume of a guy from Asia who had a beard. His resume had this - Gender: Male.

But humor apart, the only problem I see with putting up your photos online is the privacy implication. And of course, there are those blog anonymously for whatever reason.

But photos on business cards? That actually sounds rather neat!

Anonymous said...


Good idea about the pictures on our business cards, but I think overall it'd be a tough sell for people. Look how many people won't even put their photo up on their blog.

Also, if someone I just met snapped a picture with their camera phone, I might just think they were some kind of freakish stalker. :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Catherine,

We spoke briefly in the hallway at PyCon last year (I recognize you from your blog photo, of course. :) If I see you again this year, I'll be sure to give you one of my cards - if only because they have my photo on them. ;)

Take care,

Anonymous said...

I think putting your picture on your business cards is a good idea. Firstly, people can put a name to the face. Secondly, it's a picture and people love looking at pictures.

Don't be too concerned about not looking good. The only advice I can give you is don't try to look like a model because none of us can't pull that off.

When you get your business cards I highly recommend getting them from Great quality paper with low prices.

Anonymous said...

There are already some professions that put their pictures on their business cards (all real-estate agents do it). I think it's a great idea that everyone should pick up on. Much like the guy who started wearing a name tag all the time; some people gave him shit about it, but everyone knows his name! (And, I could never understand why some people gave him crap. I'd love it if everyone wore name tags.)

Unknown said...

I think pictures on business cards also comes across as friendler and more open for business