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September 14, 2015

How to Introduce Yourself to Other Genealogists at a Genealogy Conference

Whether or not you are attending RootsTech or another Genealogy Conference or Convention, whether you're going as a participant (speaker, presenter, etc.) or as an attendee, you should have a card. Call it what you want - a business card, a calling card, a Genealogy calling card..... but you should have one.

A calling card allows you to connect more easily with other genealogists. You're more accessible with your name and contact details on a card.

Do you have a blog? A website? Are you a passionate genealogist? Are you a member of some genealogy societies, a volunteer for a genealogical organization? Are you on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, Periscope, Instagram, LinkedIn or another social networking site? You need a card to let other genealogists know about your interests and how and where they can contact you!

Victorian Calling Card

Perhaps you aren't involved in any of the things I mentioned above. But you love genealogy and you like to meet other genealogists. You could benefit from a genealogy calling card. Think of the 19th Century when visitors handed their calling cards to servants who placed them on a silver tray for the head of the house or his wife to look at later. 

I'm not advocating anything as fancy as the Victorian calling card shown here but a simple calling card is a great introduction and a good way to ensure that genealogists you meet will remember you.
Perhaps you've sat through a wonderfully inspiring and informative presentation on a genealogy topic. You managed to introduce yourself to the presenter. She gave you her business card. Wouldn't it be great for you to hand her your calling card too? Now she has a name, an email and any other information you want to put on it, to remind her of your meeting. Who knows, maybe you'll connect in the future.


Or you got chatting to the genealogists sitting on either side of you. Hand them your card if you think you'd like to continue to engage with them. Maybe you went to the Conference alone and you don't know anyone there. You might decide you'd like to meet one of them for a quick supper. If your card doesn't have your cell number, you can scribble it on the back and invite a phone call or text to arrange a meetup.

Kerry Scott, from Clue Wagon blog, wrote a very interesting post in 2011 called What Do Modern Business Cards for Genealogists Look Like? The business cards that I printed for RootsTech 2011 were too simple.  And I wish I'd done colour for my logo, not just black and white. I like simple. I like uncluttered. But mine don't contain enough details and I may take Kerry's suggestion and remove my cell phone number. If I want someone to have that I can easily add it, because unlike Kerry my cards are not glossy and they aren't double-sided. It's a personal preference re glossy or matte, there's no right or wrong.

I’m a writer-on-business-cards kind of gal! I always always jot a quick note on the back after someone gives me their card – a reminder of why I wanted it, or why I might want to reconnect. It’s faster and easier for me than entering it in my iPhone. I sometimes put notes on the backs of cards I hand out - such as a URL for a site they expressed an interest in or the name of another contact, so glossy doesn't work for me. I can't write on a glossy card so matte wins.

So I'm reviewing and re-doing my Business cards this year. I've got a funky case I carry them in (thanks to my granddaughter who gave it to me in 2011) and I need to update my cards. I'm thinking I'll add my Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook information so that folks have other methods of connecting with me.

I'll keep my Olive Tree Genealogy website URL of course, and my email address. If there's room and the card isn't too cluttered, I'll add the URL for my Facebook page for Olive Tree Genealogy but that's probably all I'll have on my card.


Oh and no QR codes on mine. A lot of people don't know what those codes are for on a business card, and I'm not convinced of their usefulness on a card that already has the information printed. 
 This is a business card printed for a distant McGinnis cousin of mine back in the early 1900s. He used front and back to promote his business as a builder.

I hope you are going to create calling cards or business cards for your next genealogy convention or think about whether or not it's time to revise old ones. There are many online companies that print business cards for a reasonable fee. So don't wait, think about which you prefer - modern business cards or old-fashioned calling cards.  Or maybe you will surprise everyone with a combination of the two. 


LDC said...

This is a great post! Timely, too, as I will be heading to conference at the end of this week. I made up biz cards in preparation for attending RootsTech last year and found them to be extremely helpful! Mine are glossy on both sides though - something to fix for the next batch! I definitely liked the matte vs the gloss (at least one side) so I could make a note about when/where I met someone or what we were talking about. You might think you'll remember but it's hard when you're learning so much new stuff, seeing so many new things and meeting so many new people. I made a point of jotting down notes about each new contact each evening.

Jo Henn said...

Thank you for this post. I hadn't thought about that. I'm going to the New York State Family History Conference in a few days -- my first genealogy conference! I'm excited! I read your post with breakfast then discovered that I could order cards online with and pick them up at my local store at the end of the day. So I will now have calling cards too ( so much easier than scribbling my email or blog address on scraps of paper).thanks so much for your very timely post!

Dana Leeds said...

Good tips! I had cards made before my first week-long institute last year, but I couldn't find them this year. I might make a new set and keep your ideas in mind. Thanks!

Jana Last said...


I want to let you know that two of your blog posts are listed in today's Fab Finds post at

Have a wonderful weekend!

Bishop Joan said...

Great post! For the record, I like your card with its simple presentation, but I agree that color would make it stand out amongst others. I came across the suggestion somewhere to also include the names of the family lines you are researching. You never know when another genealogist may stumble across some valuable information for your tree.

ScotSue said...

I like your ideas very much. I don't have the opportunities to go to conferences, but I do present workshops "First Steps in Family History" and, along with handouts, I include a compliment slip (easily done on the computer at home) giving all my contact details. I hope this at least might encourage new readers to my blog. I like Joan's tip to include family names I am researching.

Diane Gould Hall said...

Excellent post. I have had business cards for genealogy for several years. I would send them in thank you notes to cemtery or courthouse employees who had helped me out and hand them out at meetings or seminars.
Since I became serious about my blog, two years ago, I had to change my cards and add my blog URL. Now you've given me more ideas, like my Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter links. I agree about not cluttering the card, so it will take some time to work it out. I'm due for new cards anyway. I make my own and, like you, prefer the matte finish.
I hope we can exchange cards at a meeting in the near future.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Diane - I would love it if we met! I don't travel much due to my physical challenges but perhaps one day....

ScotSue - Good idea about a compliment slip with your handouts. Thanks for sharing that with us

Bishop Joan - I think I would put my family names (but only a few!) with locations on the back of the card. It does depend on whether your card is for business purposes or making personal connections.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

LDC You are certainly much more organized than I am! Great tip to jot down some notes about the contact before too much time elapses

Jo I':-)m glad my post came before you left for your conference! I hope you had a great time and handed out lots of your new cards :-)

Dana Wish there was some way I could see everyone's new cards. I'm so glad my post sparked some ideas for other genealogists.

Jana Thank you for the shoutout!

Jo Henn said...

Lorine, there's a picture of mine up on my last blog post ( - I'm just an amateur family historian, rather than a professional genealogist, so I considered mine calling cards. I didn't put surnames on it as I've already got too many and they can find them at the blog (which is listed on the card. I got to hand out 5, so at this rate I have a lifetime supply! But, you're right, it was much easier than scribbling out information on scraps of notepaper!

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Jo, your card is gorgeous! I never thought to do mine in a background colour (it looks grey in the photo on my post but it is actually white). I like yours as it is simple, elegant but provides all the needed info!

Jo Henn said...

Thank you! has suggestions of sample cards - 100's of them. I looked through them and then focused in on the ones for gardeners and lawn services and tree services because I knew I wanted a tree on mine. I basically stole the design of a landscaper from Buffalo (based on the info on the sample, [grin]), and changed it from a mottled green background to my favorite color - purple- fortunately it was one of the options, and replaced her info with mine and told them to print it at my local Staples. I was really happy with how pretty it turned out. (In my regular profession I'm more used to plain cards, but didn't think I had to do that in a calling card.)

Jo Henn said...

I wanted to let you know that this post is included in my NoteWorthy Reads #22: Enjoy your weekend!

tmak mcginnis said...

well then, this man carries the McGinnis jaw line, if I'm not related I don't know who is