Are you a lawyer who thinks it’s time to toss your business cards? Here’s a real-life case against from family law attorney Elizabeth Pugliese on the ABA’s General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division listserv, SOLOSEZ:

Back in April, I had to go into the cable company office to get a box. I chatted with the guy at customer service and mentioned I was a lawyer.

Gave him my card which specifically states what kind of cases I handle (family law is a big vague for lay people).

He passed my card on to a co-worker who hired me. Who then passed my info on to a relative who hired me. Today, co-worker had a hearing. He asked for a bunch more of my cards to hand out to people.

Who knew Comcast would be a good referral source?

Who knew Comcast would be a good referral source?

The answer is, you don’t know. You don’t know whether it’s going to be your cable guy, you kid’s teacher, or your pilates instructor that’s going to be a good referral source. And you’ll never know if you dump your business cards.

While there are some electronic business card alternatives, there are no true replacements.

As Lawyerist commenter “John” noted:

As long as we humans continue to interact in the physical world, we’ll need business cards. Just make sure you do a good job of merging your online and offline presence.

In a word, yes. As much as many web ninjas, social media mages, internet marketing elves, and the rest of the LARP marketing community might prefer that we completely toss offline marketing, it is the physical world in which we meet and interact.

And while the length of time we continue to interact in the physical world may be up for debate, in my humble opinion, there’s not much debate about whether business cards still have a place in professional networking.

And so, the question becomes, how do lawyers effectively use business cards? Here are some ideas:

  • Have them at all times – You don’t know when you’ll run into the cable guy.
  • Make them sing (or at least talk) – Your card should communicate what you do, why the receiver should contact you, and how to stay connected with you.
  • Don’t be scared – Reach into your pocket grab a card, they won’t bite.
  • Don’t be rude – If you’re reaching for a business card before you’re extending your hand, you’re probably thinking business cards don’t work. News Flash, it’s not the cards

While merely having cards, and knowing what to put on them are key, knowing how to pass, receive, and merge your business cards with the rest of your professional development tools is the difference between whether your cards attract new clients or become tinder to stay warm when your power is cut.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/twistermc/3531156204/)