Tips & Tricks: Business Cards

To be honest, this post is a bit late since GDC is only a few days away, but I thought I’d post a bit about business cards. Business cards are really an industry standard, and if you don’t have any yet, you really should get to work on that. Business cards help others to remember who you are, what you do, and give examples of your work if you have a portfolio site listed. They’re part of the art of self-promotion, something that is definitely going to help you get noticed.

Keep reading to learn more on business cards in the games industry!

How Do I Come Up with a Design?

First off, you don’t even have to design your own business cards these days. There are plenty of sites where you can use their templates to make your own cards. I’ve seen some pretty cool looking templates that anyone can use. However, if you’re like me and feel like designing your own, you want to consider a few things first.

  • Choose your layout style: vertical or horizontal?
  • Use CYMK for the color mode. This is what most printers use.
  • Don’t use fonts that are hard to read. You want your information to be clear.
  • Don’t make your fonts too small. You don’t want to make people squint and strain their eyes just to see what it says.
  • Don’t use someone else’s art, without permission. You didn’t make it, and putting it on your business card is like saying you made it.
  • Remember that a business card is only 3.5″ x 2″. Keep this in mind to make sure things don’t get too small or cramped, or just look bad because they didn’t scale down well.
  • It’s common to leave the back of the card blank, not glossy, and white or another light color. This is so people can write on the back, and I’ve heard numerous complaints about business cards that they can’t write on.
  • Glossy or matte? It’s really up to you, but I don’t recommend having a glossy back (see above).
  • Make sure any images or art you use pertain to what you do.
  • Download some fonts. There are so many free fonts out there, there really is no excuse for using Times New Roman on your business card.
  • Keep it professional. This seems obvious, but I’ve seen some business cards “from the internet,” if you will, that were hardly professional or appropriate.

When it comes to actually designing your business cards, you’ll have to figure that out on your own. Google “business card designs” and you’re bound to find some inspiration.

What Do I Include?

In general, you want to include your full name, title, and web site on your business card. Phone numbers and addresses can also be good, although I tend to stay away from addresses because a) I move a lot, and b) I don’t like stalkers, but that decision is really up to you. If you are a student still, you should probably say so, although this is up for debate. I list my title on my card as “Game and Level Design Student,” because I still have about a year left before I graduate, and I don’t feel comfortable saying I’m a game and/or level designer since I don’t have any industry experience. This article by Brenda Brathwaitte (if you don’t know who she is, you should) explains her views on this: “The Dark Truth About Student Business Cards.”

How Many Do I Order?

I’ve heard a lot of different numbers thrown around when it comes to how many business cards to order, but most sites bundle them in groups of 100, 250, 500, and 1000+. If you’re going to a big event, I would go ahead and put in an order for 500 or at least 250. No, you probably won’t hand all of them out, but it’s better to have extras than to run out. You can usually find pretty good deals the more you buy, too. Depending on how close to the event you’re ordering them, you may want to even splurge a little to get them shipped faster. As for where to buy from, I’ll leave that up to you, as there are so many sites out there for you to use. Personally, I use VistaPrint, but if buying them online isn’t your thing, you can always go to a print shop and get them done there. Even some schools will print them off for you, although you want to check to see if they put their school name and/or logo on your card beforehand.

What Do I Do Now?

Hand them out, of course! If you find yourself at an industry event such as GDC, or even other events where you can find game developers, go promote yourself! Exchange business cards with developers and other students whenever you get the chance, as you never know who might need you, or vice versa. Remember to be respectful, though, and always ask politely if the other person would mind if you exchanged business cards, or even just give them yours. Don’t just give them a business card simply because you exchanged names; talk to the person first. If you hold a meaningful conversation with the person, then give them your business card, they’re more likely to remember you over the fanboy who just drooled all over them and tossed seven cards at them in hopes of getting a job.  Remember that you want to use your business card to network, not show the people you look up to and want a job from that you’re just a fan. And when you do get back from GDC or another event with a handful of business cards, follow up. E-mail them back, reminding them of who you are or an interesting conversation you had with them, and thank them for taking the time out to talk with you.

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