What's your Problem?

Do I deserve to get business cards?

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Q: This might seem petty, but I'm upset that all my colleagues and mates have business cards but I don't. I asked my line manager about it and he said that because I don't go out on client meetings and am quite junior, I don't need them. I tried to explain that I sometimes meet contacts at conferences and that it would be useful for me to have one, but he refuses. I don't think it's fair. What should I do?

A: I wonder how long you've been with this company and just how junior you are? Assuming your line manager to be a reasonable sort of person, it sounds to me as if he's not yet comfortable with the thought of your publicly representing the company.

There's something about a business card, even without a title on it, that confers a certain authority on its holder. It's presumably this very fact that makes you want one - and may also be the reason why your manager has so far decided to withhold it. I dare say he'd be reluctant to spell this out to you.

If in the course of your conference-going you encounter genuine prospective clients, it's clearly in the interests of your company that you should hold a business card. But as long as suspicion lingers that your request for a card is primarily for reasons of self-aggrandisement, you're likely to remain disappointed. I know that's a bit chicken-and-egg, but you need to demonstrate maturity and value before you can reasonably demand one.

So I'd keep quiet, if I were you. The more you pester, the more petulant you'll seem. And whatever you do, don't squeal about it being unfair. You'll get your card soon enough when you begin to contribute to your company's reputation as well as benefiting from it.

It's possible, of course, that you'll bust a gut to be useful and still won't get that precious card. If so, I'm afraid you should see it as an early indication that your manager still has doubts about you. In that case, you'll need to flush things out at your next assessment.

- Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. His book Another Bad Day at the Office? is published by Penguin at £6.99. Address your problem to Jeremy Bullmore at: editorial@mtmagazine.co.uk. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Leadership lessons from Jürgen Klopp

The Liverpool manager exemplifies ‘the long win’, based not on results but on clarity of...

How to get a grip on stress

Once a zebra escapes the lion's jaws, it goes back to grazing peacefully. There's a...

A leadership thought: Treat your colleagues like customers

One minute briefing: Create a platform where others can see their success, says AVEVA CEO...

The ignominious death of Gordon Gekko

Profit at all costs is a defunct philosophy, and purpose a corporate superpower, argues this...

Gender bias is kept alive by those who think it is dead

Research: Greater representation of women does not automatically lead to equal treatment.

How to be a resilient leader

Louai Al Roumani was CFO of Syria's largest private retail bank when the conflict broke...