The very first business cards were used in France in the 17th century. Gentlemen wrote their signatures and contact information on a small rectangular paper and presented these visiting cards to a host. Later, in the 19th century, business cards became an essential accessory for any fine lady or gentleman. They were frequently engraved and extremely ornate. Today most professionals keep a stack of business cards in their briefcase or wallet, and they are usually always anxious to pass them out to clients and friends. But times have changed. We’re living in the computer age now. Since most people keep their contact lists on their computers these days, have business cards outlived their usefulness?
No! Definitely not. It’s just time to update our mindset and our format. Microsoft Outlook has provided users with a means for creating electronic business cards for many years now, and yet many Outlook users don’t take advantage of this feature. Perhaps it is because most users don’t understand how an electronic business card simplifies the process of saving contact information.
Let’s say that you receive an email message from a potential client. You might be interested in doing business with this person in the future, and you want to save their contact information. At the bottom of the email, you see the client’s signature and contact information. You have several options. You can open a new contact form in Outlook and type in the contact information that is provided, but that will take time.
Another option is to close the email and then press and drag the message onto the Contacts button in the navigation bar. This is a time-saving trick that many Outlook users are unfamiliar with. A contact form will open with the person’s name and email address in the appropriate fields. You can save this information by clicking on the Save button, but if you want to include company name, address, telephone number, website, etc., this information will have to be typed in, even if it was included in the signature block on the original message.
If, on the other hand, the potential client has inserted his or her electronic business card at the bottom of the message, it is extremely quick and easy to save all of the contact information that is included on the business card. Simply right-click on the business card, click on “Add to Outlook Contacts,” and a contact form opens with all contact information filled in. Click on the Save and Close button on the Ribbon, and you are done. The entire process may take a couple of seconds.
Let’s take this a step further. What if you are ready to start contacting potential clients and you want your intern to assist you with this process. There are several ways that you could share your Outlook contacts with the intern, but you only want him to have access to specific account information. If you have electronic business cards for every client, it will be an easy task to insert the appropriate business cards into an email message that can then be sent to the intern.
Electronic business cards also make it easy for an Outlook user to find contacts quickly. If everyone in your contact list has a unique business card, it is easy to skim through the cards and find the one that you are looking for. Along the same lines, you might also want to create business card templates for certain groups of individuals who are listed in your Outlook contacts. For example, let’s say that you are a soccer coach. It has become necessary to cancel a game at the last minute, but since you have all of your soccer parents’ contact information mixed in with the rest of your Outlook contacts, it is time-consuming to go through and find them. If you had applied a business card template with a watermark of a soccer ball in the background to each of these contacts when you added them to your address book, it would be much easier to go through and find the soccer parents quickly now.
So how do you create a new business card for yourself or for others in Outlook 2010? A rather boring, white electronic business card is actually created each time you add a new contact to Outlook. You can then customize the template with your own images, logos, background colors, fonts, etc. Follow the steps below to create a business card from scratch:
- Open the Contacts folder in Outlook.
- Click on the Home tab on the Ribbon, if necessary.
- In the New group on the Ribbon, click on the New Contact button. An Untitled Contact form opens.
- Fill in the name, company, job title, email address, phone numbers, addresses, etc., that you wish to include on the business card.
- In the Options group on the Ribbon, click on the Business Card button. An Edit Business Card dialog box appears.
- Use the options located on the right side of the business card (in the Card Design section) to change the layout and to add a background to the card. Use the Image button to add an image. The Image can then be resized and repositioned by using the Image Area and Image Align buttons.
- Use the buttons in the Edit section to edit the text on the business card.
- Use the buttons in the Fields section to add or remove fields that are included on the business card. You may have information on the contact form that you want to keep, but that you do not want displayed on the business card. It is easy to click on the field that you want to delete from the card and then click on the Remove button. You can also change the order of the lines of text on the card by selecting a field from the list and then using the blue arrow buttons to move it to a new location.
- When finished, click on the OK button in the bottom right corner of the dialog box. The contact form reappears with the new business card displayed in the top right corner.
- Click on the Save & Close button in the Actions group on the Ribbon.
- Now the business card can be inserted into your email messages, either in addition to your signature or instead of it. After composing an email message, click on the Insert tab on the Ribbon.
- In the Include group, click on the Business Card button.
- From the drop-down list that appears, click on Other Business Cards… An Insert Business Card dialog box appears. Scroll through the contacts until you find the name on the business card you want to use.
- Click on the name from the list. The business card is displayed in the Business Card Preview area at the bottom of the dialog box.
- Click on the OK button at the bottom of the dialog box.
- The card is inserted into the email message. The business card is also included as an attachment to the message in the .vcf format.
Now recipients of this email message can add you to their contacts list quickly and effortlessly.