We need a business card substitute

Photo by jaaron, http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaaronfarr/1404738465

Either we need a business card substitute or I need a better way to remember who I met.

I see fewer and fewer people handing out business cards at conferences. That’s fine by me. But some times it’s really hard to remember the name of the person I talked to. I used to flip through my pile of business cards and I could figure out who it was. Now I have a hard time. I know what they look like, where we were standing and what we talked about. And I want to follow up. But I don’t know their name. So I end up using details and google and friends to try to find them. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Ideally, I’d have a picture,  name and email for everyone I talked to at a conference. With location and a few notes. People might think I’m weird, but I could start just taking a picture of everyone I talked to at a conference. But I’d have to remember to do that and I’m often in a hurry to get to the next talk or conversation.

Thoughts? Ideas?

P.S. I’m not sure if fewer business cards are the trend or if I’m going to different conferences. I’ll let you know after OSCON.

9 Replies to “We need a business card substitute”

  1. Last GUADEC, I remember Kristen taking pictures of everyone with their GUADEC ID cards πŸ™‚ I used his pictures to know who is who πŸ˜€

    I do not think it is weird, but actually taking pictures at the conference with their ID cards works out well, well atleast ensuring one of them is doing that, and making sure we catch him to hand over the pictures later πŸ™‚

    1. That’s a good idea. We could ask conference organizers to provide a place for attendees to put their name, pictures and info.

  2. It’s weird to me that pushing a vcard via obex (bluetooth or IR) has been possible on most phones for ages but has never caught on. vcards can embed a photo also.

    QR Codes could be used on modern phones for the same thing.

  3. I actually like Aaron’s idea to use a qrcode on the business card. While I take the step of putting text on one side for those without smart phones, I am using a qrcode link on the other for those with smart phones.

    Check out his blog post at http://bit.ly/caN97s and see if it might work for you.

  4. What I learned from the one time I participated at CeBIT with a professional sales team:

    Each business card should have a pointer to a place where you can see the person’s photo. For various reasons it is not always practical to put the photo directly on the card, but it’s nice when it happens.

    Even more importantly, each card should have ample white space to write things on. Then, when you get a card, you should write something on it to make sure you remember the person and what you need to do with or for them after the conference.

    At the end of each conference day, go through all your new cards and other notes, and make expanded notes while things are still reasonably fresh.

  5. Hi Stormy, a few thoughts here.

    A colleague is working on making our business cards available on a website. Future business cards will have a qrcode on them that contains a link to the website with that persons details and with vcard that can be downloaded.

    For LCA2010, I put Gravatar photos on all the speaker bios (if they had them). It sounded like some people noticed that. And if they created the right kind of page on our Wiki then a Gravatar photo (if present) appeared there. I’ve noticed that people often put a photo of themselves on linux.conf.au wikis anyhow.

    I had hoped to have a private Whoisi service running for LCA2010, but while I had it running, and was collecting the social networking sites for our delegates I never found the time to actually get all the glue in place. That would have been very useful.

    Geeky technical solution: Perhaps for future conferences badges could have RFID/Bluetooth gadgets of some sort and record who you’re near with timestamps.


  6. Hmm. The GUADEC 2010 ticket system uses some kind of QR codes, coupled to the registration details. Perhaps we could arrange it so that everyone carries their QR code with them in their badge? The only problem is how to decipher so that the personal details are transferred to the device used to photograph it…

  7. I read that one of the security conferences did something interesting with RFID badges, maybe you need a phone that reads RFID and for the conference to use RFID badges.

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