I have been teaching as an adjunct at The Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) since I completed my Masters at The Catholic University of America (CUA) two years ago. As such, I am not automatically issued business cards and this does not help me network in academia, among high schools or in the realm of public history (although, I recently learned that I can request them from CCBC’s printing office). Utilizing LinkedIn, I plum through old contacts and try to keep up with groups and other contacts. On Twitter, I share articles, updates and blogs that are relevant to the people and organizations I want to reach. I attend academic conferences, visit historical sites, museums and research libraries and try to make contacts, regardless of whether or not I want to work there.
A good business card is a handy thing. If nothing else, it tells the potential contact what I take seriously. I don’t actually want a CCBC business card, because I don’t want to be limited to that institution and its job requirements. So, through my buddy Tony Veloz, budding photographer extraordinaire, I was introduced to Moo.com and its nifty approach to printing customized business cards. I uploaded as many pictures as I wanted from my personal collection (based on the number of cards I was printing) and submitted my details for the other side. The result is a wonderfully personalized business card that always generates a response from the recipients and a brief conversation that reassures me they will remember me if I contact them later.
I uploaded photos from my travels and visits covering everything from the Walters Gallery’s Mesopotamian exhibit to Roman/Greek Ephesus in Turkey, from Parliament and Big Ben photographed from the Thames to the Benedictine monastery Montserrat, from Fort McHenry to the Library of Congress. As a historian, I have can tailor my connection to the audience based on the era or venue that best fits the impression I want to make. At the conference on Washington D.C. history, I attended a workshop entitled, “African-American Activism in DC”, and handed out business cards with photos from my visit to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, featuring the sit-in lunch counter from the Woolworth’s and the exhibit featuring Harlem’s Apollo Theater. It made more sense than handing out the card with the monastery from Barcelona (which I gave to Mayke De Jong!) or the Roman road in Ephesus. Speaking to someone in public history warrants an American site, while a medievalist will be more interested in the medieval manuscript with the monkeys at the bottom playing “Ring-around-the Rosy.”
At some point, I would love to add some “action shots” from an archaeological dig or a teaching gig. It offers huge flexibility and creativity for someone seeking the next big step in my career!
Just some thoughts for folks who might make use of it!!