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May 2012

What's your line? — Is your personal business card working for you?

A woman at a career networking event shared her personal business card with me. It had a drawing of a harp on it. I said “Oh, you're a musician. You want to make connections in the world of music!” “No,” she said. “I want to work in health care. But I love to play the harp and thought I'd put that on there.”

I was confused. Although she was at the meeting to make contacts in the health care industry, her card sent a different message.

Whether you've just graduated, are employed or not, and you want to be identified in a new way, make sure you create a personal business card that identifies you the way you want to market yourself. It is still protocol even in our world of electronic devices.

Instead of pulling out your former company business card, or tearing off a piece of paper that winds up flying around on its way to someone's pocket, have a personal business card that you're proud of. It doesn't have to be fancy or loaded with information — just enough to make you memorable.

Use the name you go by (save your full, formal name for legal documents), and perhaps a career function (not title), as in Project Management rather than Project Manager. Use the phone number where you want to be called. If that's your cell, be “on” every time you take a call. Use an email address that has your name in it. If using your LinkedIn address, make sure your profile is complete and ready for prime time!

Street address, city and state are optional but many folks use it to show they're “grounded.” One colleague uses her personal street address with “Suite 2” which gives it a corporate feel.

For ideas on graphics and format, check out Be careful not to get carried away. Keep it simple. And pay a few extra bucks to get your cards without the printer's logo on the back. If you make your own, use high quality card stock with clean edges.

Your personal business card will speak volumes about you. It is a must for anyone who wants to be taken seriously in the world of work.

Kathleen Martinek, former UNCG alumni career counselor, has more than 15 years of experience in career development and corporate management. She can be reached at







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