As you prepare for your summer job or permanent employment after graduation, the use and etiquette of business cards becomes important.  Exchanging business cards with attorneys you meet in professional or social settings is a great way to interact and continue to connect.

The Career Development Office has a template on the computer in the Resource Room that Mizzou Law students may use. Bring business cards with you wherever you go.  Keep cards in your wallet, purse, car, briefcase, and suit pocket so that they are easily assessable and never forgotten.

A business card is presented to a new contact only after you have been talking for a few minutes and have built some rapport, then the business card is offered as a way to further the connection.  For example, “I’ve enjoyed meeting you and would like to continue the conversation.  Here’s my card, I would very much like to learn more about your practice.”  Generally, the contact will reciprocate with his/her business card.

When you receive a business card, take a moment to look at the information, note the general presentation and anything that jumps out at you.  You might notice that the spelling of his/her name is unusual or have a specific question regarding their title, or the logo for the firm might catch your eye.  If appropriate, make a comment or give a compliment before tucking the card away.  After the event, note what you talked about on the back of the card, something that will jog your memory later.  This is handy when you are at a training or conference and collect many cards in a short period of time.

Now that you have the card, it is important to follow through. The burden of following up and keeping in contact lies with you.  Handing a card to a new contact and waiting for them to contact you, is not effective.  Send a quick email to the person following up on something you talked about or send a personalized LinkedIn invitation mentioning something that will help the person remember you are both great ways to continue the conversation.

Everyone manages their cards in a way that works for them.  It is easy to buy a business card organizer to keep them all in one place or download the app Card Munch to keep all the information in your phone or iPad.  Whichever system you use, keeping the contacts available and maintaining the connection is the cornerstone to building a professional network.