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September 28, 2011

How to Introduce Yourself to Other Genealogists at a Genealogy Conference

My Current Business Card
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 +, LinkedIn or other social networking sites? 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 and timely post called What Do Modern Business Cards for Genealogists Look Like? Since RootsTech 2012 is only a few months away, I've been thinking about my own cards and how I might change them.

The business cards that I printed for RootsTech 2011 are 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 have decided to 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.

Even though I jot down notes on business cards, one of my favourite apps for my iPhone is a scanner for business cards called WorldCardMobile. It reads any business card and imports it into my contact list. I can’t live without it! I misplaced several of the cards I was given at the last RootsTech Convention and this year I'm prepared.

Business Card Case
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 11 year old granddaughter who gave it to me last Christmas) and I need to update my cards. I'm thinking I'll add my Twitter, Google + and LinkedIn 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. I don't see the point. 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. Michael Hait of Planting the Seeds  blog created new cards with QR codes and he presents a good case for including one but I'm not quite ready to jump on the QR bandwagon. You can see an example of his new business cards at 21st Century business card designs

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. Then 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. What are your thoughts?


Kevin H said...

I'm headed to RootsTech for the first time and I've been wondering what to do about this, especially since I'm going along and won't really know anyone there. I was planning on bringing some kind of card, but you've given me some really good ideas here. Thanks so much!

Deason Hunt said...

This is one of the most thought-provoking posts I have read in a while. Now, my mind can go tow ork on this. Thanks

Carol Yates Wilkerson said...

This is something I've been contemplating for a while too. I'd like a nice professional-looking calling card that includes most of my information, but I too would leave off the cell phone number. I do have a Meet-meme card that includes a QR to my profile there, but I think I would include my blog QR on my card. That's just me though. If I knew I was going to be somewhere where I would be giving out my cards a lot, I think I'd just liberate them from a case and have them loose in my pocket. I've seen some really nice looking genealogy type cards that Footnote Maven did for herself that I might try to model mine after. Thanks for the great post about this!

Kerry Scott said...

Love this...and now I have another reason to look forward to RootsTech, because I can't wait to see everyone's business card!

SueFitz said...

Thank you for this thought provoking post. I used to have years ago a bc when I went to a conference. But haven't in years now that I've joined my local society again and am trying to document for DAR membership it is probably a good thing to do again

Genealogy Blogger said...

Loving everyone's thoughts and comments. I think I'm going to actively seek out as many cards as I can at RootsTech in February!

I'm all about new connections and new friends. And hoping to see some idea-inspiring cards!

Infolass said...

Yes, we have one we have used since about 1999 when we got started in serious genealogy. It include our website. ( We also collect "Australian Women's Weekly"'s, which my late father in law used to illustrate and so that also gets the word out. I was at a genealogy conference recently - wearing my name badge and was stopped in a busy stairwell asking me about my name. I pulled out my card and said please email me! and got out of people's way.

Becky Jamison said...

Loved your post, Lorine. I had to get my business card and take a look at what I'd put on there last year. I'm still satisfied with it...I put a thumbnail photo of myself--not for vanity, but I like to have a face with a name after I go home from a conference so maybe others do too. I also put my email and web site addresses, plus a QR code that goes to my web site, just for fun. I too want to trade them at RootsTech 2012. I might even staple mine to my name tag.

DearMYRTLE said...

Use for best prices on business cards.

I like the idea of no cell #, It used to be bad form not to include it -- like you were some kind of fly-by-nighter. But that was then, this is now.