A visiting card is not a business card. Although they are similar, the two types of cards have different purposes. Making your business cards do double duty as visiting cards can leave the wrong impression. So what exactly is a visiting card and how is it different from a business card?
To understand how they differ from business cards it helps to know their history. Visiting cards were used by nobility when they made social calls. When they arrived, they or their servant would hand the card to their host’s doorman to announce their arrival. Different sources trace their origin to Europe or to China, but what we know is that by the 18th century, they were considered essential for gentlemen throughout the western world. Visiting cards are also known as calling cards, although the term ‘calling card’ has developed a different connotation over the years and now refers more to someone’s distinctive style, traits or actions.
Today, a visiting card can include your company’s name and logo, but it would have fewer details about the business. A business card primarily represents the company, whereas a visiting card focuses on the individual. And that is what influences how each type of card is used.
When to Use a Visiting Card instead of a Business Card
A business card is all business. If you want to give someone a way to contact your business, whether it is your own company or your employer, a business card is ideal. It can include your name, email and direct phone line, but its function is to encourage and facilitate someone to contact the company. Usually, the individual who handed them the card is not the only person who could help them at the business.
A visiting card is more personal. They can still be used in a purely social setting, or they are appropriate for softer business purposes where you are striving to make a more personal connection.
They also hit the right note for people who are not a business per se but who need a way for others to contact them. Artists and craftspeople who sell their works are not necessarily a business, but they do have occasions where they need a convenient way to pass along their contact details. Writers, tutors and public speakers can also use visiting cards this way.
Their original purpose might have evolved, but visiting cards can still be used to announce your arrival. You might not be calling to the estate of a noble family, but if you are calling in anywhere you are not already personally known, a visiting card can be a handy way for a receptionist to pass along your details to the professional you wish to see, whether you are there as a supplier, a customer or an industry colleague.
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