Business Cards in (Cyber)Space

Business Cards in (Cyber)Space

Workface’s BusinessCard2 offers a digital way for businesspeople to meet, exchange information, and network.

The business card is an essential piece of the networking ritual. Shake hands, exchange pleasantries, swap cards. So what to do now that many of these meetings take place through e-mail, online chats, and social networks?

Minneapolis-based Workface believes it has a solution: BusinessCard2. It’s a digital business card platform that lets users create and share tiny Web billboards that advertise their professional credentials and contact information.

Workface’s virtual cards are compact, interactive, and free. They’re also designed to be simple to set up. Type in your name, title, company and contact info, upload a photo, and stop there if you want. What you get is a card-like widget, with all your information, that can be attached to a Web site, e-mail signature, or social network profile.

The boxes measure 300 by 250 pixels, but tabs and scrolling functions allow them to pack in far more information than you could fit on a wallet-sized rectangle. The cards can include social media links, PDFs, videos, slide shows, and many other file formats.

The widgets are designed to boost users’ online profiles, making it easier for prospective partners and customers to find and reach them. That’s something that can be difficult if, say, there’s no contact information for someone on a company Web site.

“The goal is to be able to get you out there a little bit more broadly,” says Workface President Lief Larson. BusinessCard2 is getting out there a bit more broadly itself. In January, it beat out Twelpforce, Best Buy’s Twitter-based customer service program, for the monthly Social Business Innovation Award given out by a London blog. And in April, Larson’s start-up was invited to Palo Alto for the OnDemand 100 event, which brought together the top private companies working with cloud-computing services.

Workface recently added chat and Q&A features, which allow people to directly contact a card owner. The company also is developing a contact importer, which would let users convert e-mail contacts into a BusinessCard2 directory.

Workface has competitors, but Larson believes BusinessCard2 can help generate connections better than any other professional networking service. Unlike LinkedIn, it’s an open network, designed to help businesses and consumers find professionals with whom they aren’t already connected.

BusinessCard2 profiles also are designed to show up high in search engine results. Users can buy credits to boost their cards’ ranking in searches on the site’s directory. That’s the company’s chief revenue source. Other plans include building directories based on BusinessCard2 technology for larger enterprises.

While Workface doesn’t share revenue numbers, Larson says that tens of thousands of users have created BusinessCard2 accounts. They range from small-business owners to employees of Fortune 500 companies.