Mashable has a good post today on paperless business cards–a lot of the ideas are free.
“What’s that, you’re still printing your business card on paper? That is so last year. These days, business cards are going all virtual and that’s a good thing. Not only are paperless business cards good for the environment, and easier to carry, they’re also unlimited — you’ll never run out when you’re networking at an event or conference.
But there are a bunch of different ways to construct a virtual business card, which is right for you? Below are eight ways to build a virtual business card that you can use to send your information to contacts the next time you’re at a networking event. Please share any other services you use in the comments.”
Their list is below the jump.
1. SMS – While it’s true that almost everyone you meet is going to have a pocket to store your business card in, it’s also true that almost everyone you meet will have a cell phone as well — and they’re likely to be a lot less cavalier about losing, misplacing, or throwing away their phone than they are about your business card. The services below allow you to beam your business card via SMS text message to interested parties.
Contxts() – Send and receive 140 character business cards via text message for free. 140 characters doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s enough to include vital contact information (like name, business name, phone #, and email). See our previous review of Contxts here.
TextID – Meet someone new and tell them to text message your username to a short, six digit number. In return, they’ll receive your contact info via SMS. The service costs $19.95/month with 250 free texts.
DUB – Once you’ve created your business card on DUB’s web site you can then have it sent to other users by email or SMS simply by sending a text message to the DUB site. DUB actually could have fit into almost any of the categories in this section since it supports email, SMS, and they have iPhone, Android(), Blackberry, and Windows Mobile applications, as well as a web interface.
2. Mobile Web – MyNameIsE is essentially a mobile social network of business cards. The site collects together all of your social profiles into a virtual business card that is accessible via mobile web and iPhone-optimized web sites. When you meet a new contact, simply enter each other’s usernames and a connection is made.
Perhaps more interestingly, though, the people behind “E” have created a USB dongle called the E Connector (pictured above) that they plan to sell to trade show and conference organizers as a way for attendees to more easily share information. The dongle, which is about the size of the keyless entry keychain fobs used for automobiles, can automatically share contact information when it comes near another Connector.
3. Email – Why manually email your contact information to someone you’ve just met when you can tell your phone to do it for you? Check out the services below, which combine the ease and ubiquity of text messaging with the power of email to share your virtual business card with colleagues.
Dropcard is a lot like Contxts and TextID, but it’s focused on email. After you create a profile, anytime you meet someone you just text their email address to a special number and they’re emailed your virtual business card. Dropcard is free for up to 5 connections per month, but for heavy networkers, opt for the $9.99/month plan that allows you to send unlimited cards.
WeaveMet – WeaveMet is a similar service that lets you send your contact information to people you meet via email or text message. You simply instruct the service (via SMS) to email new contacts your information, along with a short note (like where you met).
4. iPhone – There are a number of great iPhone business card sharing applications available in the App Store, and we profiled a bunch of them last month. One of my favorites is beamME, which lets you create a vCard and send it to anyone you meet via email, mobile number, or even Twitter() direct message. But check out last month’s roundup for a number of great options.
While mobile phone-centric applications are very helpful in the field, they only provide room for the most basic of information. The options below will help you create a more complete business card.
5. Social Networks – Social networks, especially those that cater to business usage, are an amazing replacement for business cards. Most people you meet are probably going to Google() your name anyway, so filling out profiles on prominent social networks is a good way to make sure that what they find is what you want to present. LinkedIn(), or Xing if you live in Europe, are good places to start.
LinkedIn offers tools to help you connect further with people you’ve met via networking events, as well as a way to communicate with them without having to give out your personal contact information. Be sure to complete your entire profile and pick an appropriate vanity URL.
Another option that shouldn’t be overlooked is Facebook(). Privacy controls make it possible to keep your business and social contacts separate, and the coming addition of vanity URLs will make it a lot easier for people to find you.
6. Google Profile – On the whole, Google Profiles are pretty basic — they’re yet another place to list standard biographical information and profile links. But because they now figure so prominently into Google search results, it’s a very good idea to set yours up as part of your virtual business card strategy. Further, short vanity URLs make them really easy to share.
7. Twitter – Everyone is already exchanging Twitter user names when they meet at conferences because they’re short, easy to remember, and a great way to invite someone to connect with you without having to exert much effort. In May, we profiled a new app that allows you to send business cards over Twitter.
twtBizCard makes sending a business card via Twitter as a easy as appending a hashtag to the end of an @reply directed at the person who you want to send information. The nice thing about sending a virtual business card this way is you can use the remaining tweet space to include a message about where you met.
8. Profile Aggregators – As a whole, every one of your social media profiles paint a picture of your online identity, so you may very well want to include those profiles as part of your virtual business card. But for social media junkies, that becomes a difficult prospect — sharing a bunch of social media profiles URLs just isn’t easy. An elegant way to deal with that problem is by using a profile aggregator.
We recently reviewed a number of ways to share your social media profiles, but two you should pay special attention to are Retaggr() and Chi.mp. Retaggr creates a virtual social media business card that you can share and embed. The card includes links to all of your social profiles and even pulls in dynamic content (like blog posts and tweets). Chi.mp, meanwhile, gives users their own yourname.mp domain name and aggregates content from socials sites that you use. The reason Chi.mp is ideal for business use is that it has advanced privacy settings that allow you to create special profiles for different users — i.e., so that your business contacts never need to see pictures of your kids from your Flickr() stream.