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Advice / Job Search / Networking

The Quickest, Easiest Way to Turn Business Cards Into Digital Contacts

Even in our hyper-connected world, business cards are an important networking tool. They’re convenient, they’re efficient, and they maintain the proper social distance (how weird would it be to whip out your cell phone at a conference and ask that VP of Marketing to input her email and phone number?).

Once you receive a card, what you do with it (and the important information it holds) is critical. When I receive a card from a new contact, I generally stow it in a dedicated holder in my purse until the next time I’m at my computer. Then I either record the contact’s info into my Google Contacts or write a “thank you, nice to meet you” email, in which case his or her email will automatically be saved in my history and I’ll get additional contact info via email signature when he or she responds. After that? I dump the card in the trash.

It’s not a perfect system, but as of yet I haven’t been able to find a better, tech-optimized one. For a time, I tried out LinkedIn’s CardMunch app, but I found it useless to have to utilize two separate contact apps—my iPhone’s native Contacts and an app just for people from whom I had collected a business card. CardMunch was recently shuttered, anyhow.

In its place? A digital solution that may just be the business card pay dirt I’ve been looking for (maybe literally—you never know when and how a new contact could pay dividends!). LinkedIn has partnered with the holy grail of digital organization, Evernote, to create a business card mode for its in-app camera that scans the data from physical business cards and automatically generates a digitized version. Within seconds, you can connect with that person on LinkedIn, share your own details with him or her, or save your new contact directly to your device’s address book.

The coolest part is the auto-magical quality of the technology. To snap an image of the business card, just put it down on any contrasting surface and frame it in the business card camera mode of Evernote. The camera will find the card edges and snap a photo, no taps or clicks required. Plus, unlike your standard address book, the tool’s integration with Evernote means you can easily pin notes, images, documents, or to-dos (“Congratulate Mike on his promotion”) to contacts for a richer-than-ever database of connections.

The Evernote business card scanner is currently available only in Evernote for iPhone and iPad, but is coming soon to Evernote for Android.

Now, go forth and collect business cards aplenty. They won’t be cluttering up your wallet for long—but you’ll have the information at your fingertips for years to come.