Networking? Scan Your Business Cards


Personal Productivity for Lawyers

This quick-start guide to Getting Things Done and Inbox Zero also includes two shortcuts for those who want the benefits of GTD without having to learn the system.

Technology is constantly changing the way attorneys run their practices. Products like the ScanSnap and Dropbox have allowed firms to ditch paper and run paperless law offices. Smartphones allow attorneys to operate mobile law offices.

One thing that has not changed is business cards—there is no electronic substitute. If you find yourself with a stack of business cards, use your scanner to keep track of them.

Scanning means less mess

I’m sure there are still attorneys who use a Rolodex to keep track of business cards. I am also guessing those people still feel that dictation is good use of time and money.

One of the best things about maintaining a paperless office is the reduced clutter. No stacks of files, no file cabinets, etc. Same thing with business cards. Sticking them in a drawer is relatively useless. Chances are, three months from now you will grab a stack and just throw them away.

If you scan business cards, there is no clutter. There is no panic when you need to find that one guy’s card—that guy you met at the thing that one time. Creating a digital copy makes it easier to track your contacts.

Use a system that works for you

One of the easiest ways to track and remember references is to write on the back of cards—when you met them, how you know them, etc.

If you scan them, you can even organize your contacts into different folders. For example, if you practice family law, create a folder for family law attorneys.

Maybe you want to create a folder for people you want to have lunch with in the near future. Or even create a folder for people you would prefer to not have lunch with.

Either way, create a system that works for you. Business cards are an integral part of networking, be sure to do more than stick them in a drawer.



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  • Matt

    Dude: Where have you been? There is an electronic version for your smartphone that has totally replaced business cards. In fact, if you do not use Bump, you are considered in the stone age. Read more here:

    • Randall, dude, this guy is like totally right. Bump has been around for like dozens of months. It’s like totally amazing old-school technology. Dude.

    • Dude, I have Bump. And let me tell you something broseph, if you ask most attorneys over the age of 35 to bump with you, they will stick out their fist.

  • Wondering if anyone is aware of a program that scans the business cards into google contacts instead of Outlook?

    I prefer to “bump” as well, but not everyone is as up to speed as we are and don’t know what “bump” is, much less how to use it! I still meet so many people who don’t have facebook, linkdin, twitter, etc. Some still don’t even have a website.

    Thanks in advance,

  • Duuuuuuuuude.

    Bump is a pain in the zook. Call me old fashioned, but I’ll take a business card anytime rather than clutter up my smartphone data with someone’s info that I may or may not want. Half the beauty of a business card is you can toss it when you don’t need it anymore or if you’re just being polite enough to take one.

    It also takes longer to bump than it does to get a card and move on.

    Question is, what’s the best way to digitize the information? Shoot a picture and use Evernote? Scan and hope for the best?

    Great topic!

    • Agreed. I prefer scanning over Evernote. To me, using Evernote is just an extra step.

  • Julie K

    I think Larry’s idea would be great: a photo of the person to Evernote and Scanner Pro app (iPhone) to scan the business card to Evernote too. Then join the two, so you could more easily remember who the person is. On a Mac you could then enter the card info into iCal and copy the photo in as well, but that takes more effort.

    • I don’t even use a scanner app. I either just use the “Snapshot” feature directly in the Evernote iPhone app, or (much more often) take the stack of business cards I get at an event, sort out the ones I actually want, then scan them to Evernote with my ScanSnap.

      • I like the Scanner Pro app, but not for business cards. By scanning them, it forces me to sit down and organize them.

  • Elle

    Interesting idea. I am “old school” I guess. I just have a business card folio for my important contacts and it is small enough to fit in my purse. It holds 72 cards so it’s not even full yet! I suppose once I start LS in the fall, I’ll need to look into this kind of technology. Networking is key!

    • I would highly suggest using a scanner or Evernote to keep track of those. Evernote is by far the cheaper option.

  • I’ve been starting to play with CardMunch on the iPhone. Think it was recently bought by LinkedIn, and you take a picture of a business card with your phone, it sends the image to Mechanical Turk at Amazon, and within minutes you have all the details accurately dropped into a new contact record. All for free. So far, I’m a big fan.

    • Good call on the CardMunch App. I’m going to have to try it out.

      In my experience, I’ve yet to meet anyone else who uses Bump. Everyone here in Vegas is old school I guess and uses standard, tangible business cards.

  • I definitely think Evernote is the way to go for this. I snap photos with my smartphone, add notes as necessary, and use tags to help me sort. It’s a lot slicker than sorting into folders on my computer, and a lot easier to access on the go.

  • CardMunch looks pretty sweet—thanks for the heads up!

    • My pleasure re: CardMunch. My only question is whether they also get a copy of the card details, to help them build something like Jigsaw as a centralized contact database. I haven’t yet read the T&Cs closely.