Eight Digital Alternatives to Paper Business Cards

Welcome to the world of professional networking, 2.0.

While exchanging business cards remains standard protocol among many executives and nobody believes paper cards will become extinct anytime soon, more professionals are also opting for Web-based services or “digital business cards.”

If you’ve ever attended a conference and searched your pocket or shoulder bag in vain for an inscribed paper rectangle, you can see the value in sharing contact information online or via cell phones, where it’s almost always easily accessible.

For the recent grad
Don’t hit the job market without plenty of personalized cards. But if you want to show off your tech-savvy, the free Web site DubMeNow lets you create a digital edition that’s always at the ready. You can share your mobile card via text or e-mail, and your contact nformation is saved into the person’s address book and automatically updated whenever you make a change. DubMeNow also can locate where and when you met your contact, in case you have a memory lapse.

For the budding entrepreneur
The Web site BusinessCard2 lets you create an online card with a distinctly professional spin. The card’s skin is sleek and has three tabs to help potential customers get to know you and your business. There’s an info tab where you can list your experience and another tab for listing your social networks. BusinessCard2 also can embed your business card link in e-mail messages or on your blog.

For the frequent conference attendee
You, professional person with a stack of other people’s business cards you never use, are the reason digital business cards exist in the first place. Instead of logging in all your new contacts’ info yourself, use CloudContacts. Send them your paper business cards, and CloudContacts will do the dirty input work for you. Then all you have to do is export the data to Microsoft Outlook, Facebook or another digital address book, and you’re set.

For the technophobe
Saddington came up with this customizable, easy-to-use and free WordPress theme program to help people manage their online identity. Download the program, upload a picture that screams “talented and capable,” add career-friendly social network profiles (and all the ways a person can reach you) and boom — you’ve got your very own landing page.

For the tweet-minded
If you’re a fan of Twitter you know anything is possible in 140 characters or less, including sharing your business card. With TwtBizCard, you can link your Twitter profile with a free personalized online business card and instantly start tweeting with the hash tag, “#twtbizcard,” or add #twtbizcard to an @reply.

For the iPhone addict
Some iPhone applications, like Bump and BeamMe, allow you to exchange digital info seamlessly with other iPhone owners. Then there’s SnapDat, which sends a digital image of your business card. Choose from more than 40 designs or upload your company’s logo, and embed links to your social networking sites. Then you can either e-mail the card to potential contacts or send it to their phones through their SnapDat account.

For the social network queen (or king)
There are so many social networks swirling around that it can be hard to keep track of them all. With Retaggr, you can create a professional digital business card that aggregates all your online identities. After creating a Retaggr profile, you can customize an interactive business card that lets people get your contact information and browse your Flickr photos all at once.

For those who miss Tamagotchis
The animal-shaped darling of digital business cards, the Poken has seen popularity overseas, but hasn’t quite caught on in the United States yet. You can wirelessly exchange contact information and social networks with another Poken user by “high-fouring,” or touching the paw-like RFID connectors together. To download your new contacts, you insert the Poken in your computer’s USB port . It’s cute and easy, but only works if you come across another Poken user, so in the meantime, keep carrying that stash of business cards.

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