I got to a lot of conferences, and that means I get a lot of business cards.

At the end of a busy week of networking and meeting new people, I sometimes end up with a brick of a hundred perfectly aligned and undifferentiated cards. Try as I might, I just can't remember why I have this card or that, or when exactly I spoke to this person. They often get wrapped in a rubber band and put in my desk, unlikely to get seen again. 

But there are a few that have stood out, and they employed some unique ways of making sure I took notice of them in a sea of others.

Here are five surprisingly easy ways to make your card stand out. 

1. Bump it up a weight class

Many people look for deals on business cards, getting more cards per pack in exchange for choosing cheaper paper. But studies show that the quality or weight of paper in which a document is presented actually has a measure able difference in how its perceived.

The same can hold true for business cards. Choose a sturdy and reliably firm paper stock, like these ultra-thick Luxe cards from Moo.com, to leave a stronger impression and better represent your personal brand in paper form.

2. Make it personal 

One of the most memorable business cards I ever received had a surprising amount of white space. The card was completely blank on the back except for a line of text that read something like "remember me? We met..." The person who gave it to me had hand-written a little note about our chat by the hummus station at the conference, ensuring that when I found the card later that week, I remembered exactly who he was and how we had connected. 

Be sure your personality comes through in your card design and leaves room for personal touches that speak to who you are. Add a personalized element to your cards by printing small batch cards for each event you attend, or leave room for writing in memorable personalized notes in-person. 

3. Think outside the box

The  standard business card size is 3.5-by-2-inches. And while there's something to be said for the comfort of sticking to industry standards, choosing a slightly different card size can help your card stand out from the stack and get a second look. 

Some companies offer cards that are just slightly larger than the typical size, giving you a slight distinctions. You can push the boundaries further if you're feeling daring; Some companies offer cards in perfect squares, instead of the usual rectangles, or designing a half-height mini-card that's guaranteed to make the recipient take pause.

4. Make a change you can feel

Just as size is standardized in the business card world, so, too, are pointed corners. And the gritty matte surface. One easy way to stand out is to make a slight change that gives your card a slightly different feel, in-hand.

Many business card companies are now offering rounded corners at little to no extra cost. Some also offer surface textures, like foil or raised glossy accents. 

5. Forget the card altogether

In a world of 3.5-by-2-inch rectangles, the easiest way to stand out is to pass on cards altogether. Consider printing your contact information on utilitarian items, like pens or USB drives, so it's likely to stick around and catch their attention multiple times, versus ending up in that brick of cards of since-forgotten contacts.

Alternatively, you can simply ditch business cards altogether like Gary Vaynerchuk recommends, and connect with people digitally, on the spot, by adding them on LinkedIn or sending them an email from your phone the moment you decide to exchange contact information.

By making some quick changes to the next batch of cards you order, or breaking outside the bounds of a card altogether, you'll be sure to start making more memorable and impactful impressions.

Published on: Jul 6, 2016