Written by Lori Thiessen

Since I’ve moved, I’ve had to recite my new ‘digits’ ad nauseum to all and sundry.  How much better it would be if I had a card with all my information to leave with people.  Being an English literature fan, I remember reading about ladies and gentlemen leaving their ‘card’ for the master or mistress of the house on a fine silver salver presented to her or him by the butler.  What an elegant way of communicating with someone!

The basic calling card is generally about the size of a playing card. It can be a little larger or a little smaller. The history, design and use of the calling card is charming but complex. For more information, please consult these excellent articles on the topic: “The Art of Manliness” and “The Gentleman’s Page”.

But it seems that the calling card is making something of a comeback in our era. Time Magazine featured an article on its resurgence, “May I Offer You My Calling Card”.  Many people feel awkward about offering their business card in a social setting and so we scramble for pens and scraps of paper to scrawl down names and numbers. The calling card is an effective, creative and easy way to swap information.

This is particularly true for parents wanting to connect with other parents for playdates and other social occasions for their children. Elaine Milnes, a stay-at-home-mom, decided to create a calling card. Her revival of this quaint method of social connection caught on so well that she created an online business, MommyBiz.net.

For the cafe commuter, the calling card initializes a potential coffee shop office friendship in a more subtle fashion than a business card.  Because the coffee shop office is a mercurial place, neither strictly business nor strictly social, the relationships formed there reflect the character of this “third space”.

Cafe commuters by their very nature cover the gambit of enterprise (from student to upper level management) the traditional business card doesn’t suit communication needs of everyone.  The calling card, revamped for the social media needs of today, fills the gap.

So what should be included on the calling card of a cafe commuter? I would suggest the following:

  • Your name
  • Facebook name or Twitter name and/or website
  • Email and/or cell phone

You may even want to put in the name and address of the coffee shop that you use most frequently, somewhat like a Victorian gentleman including the name of his club on his card.

You can order business cards for free from websites like VistaPrint.ca, or pick up some business card stock from a stationery supplier to create them on your own printer, or talk to your local printer.

In this age of overwhelming technological gadgetry, something as simple as a well-designed, attractive social card stands out a mile, and so will you in the mind of your card’s recipient.

Q: What do you think of calling cards?

Thanks for dropping by and I’ll save your seat until next time!