Although exchanging contact information has become easier in recent years thanks to smart phones, business cards have never gone out of fashion. It’s a good idea to exchange cards after an interesting exchange or conversation at a conference–it might feel a little awkward at first, but it’s a good habit to establish early on as you grow your network of contacts.
As graduate students, we don’t have the benefits of university provided cards, so here are some suggestions for printing cards at a reasonable price.
MOO products provide a great balance between design and practicality. You can pick a regular size business card, or, even better, a minicard. This minicard has just enough space for your name, degree information, email, phone number, and a brief list of your interests without feeling too crowded. Either card can be personalized with photos and/or logos, and you can also select a package of “ready made” cards. You can even pick and choose different cards from different “ready made” packages if you want. MOO charges $19.99 for 100 mini cards and $21.99 for 50 business cards. You can also purchase different card holders (including one that attaches to a keychain for easy access).
Another option for a more traditional business card is Vistaprint. Some of the pre-made designs are a little cheesy, so customizing your own from scratch is probably your best option. The base level pricing is 250 cards for $19.99, but upgrading to nicer paper or other types of customization (such as raised print or making the card double-sided) will quickly increase your costs.
Zazzle is another option. As with Vistaprint, some of the premade cards may not interest you, but they have customizable options as well. Many designs are uploaded by members who have stores on Zazzle. The starting cost is $22.95 per pack of 100, and nicer paper and other customizations will increase your costs.
One last word of advice: make a permanent email address (Gmail or iCloud are both good options) that consists of your first and last name to print on your cards. You will need a professional email address to give out that will not expire when you’re finished with your graduate program, since many schools do not provide alumni email accounts. Backstreetboys1995@yahoo.com will catch people’s attention…in a bad way.