One practice that’s common across virtually all businesses is the exchange of business cards. Microsoft chose to honor that common practice by adding electronic business cards to Outlook 2007. This brings them in line with most other modern email and contact management products.. Even better, Outlook’s electronic business cards use the industry standard vCard (.vcf) format making it simple to exchange cards with other people through email.

That said, please be aware that while Outlook makes it easy to work with electronic business cards, designing quality cards is a whole different story, and the province of the corporate marketing folks. This puts the art of designing quality electronic business cards outside the scope of this article. So we’ll talk only about how you create and use electronic business cards. It’s up to you, in compliance with corporate policy, to come up with a design you are proud of.

How to Create an Electronic Business Card

As soon as you create a new contact, Outlook automatically creates a very basic electronic business card to go with it. These cards are simply lists of the basic information you entered for that contact, such as their name and address, along with a copy of the contact’s picture (if you have one). What follows is a very basic set of instructions for creating more elaborate cards to that replace these basic default ones.

To create an electronic business card for a particular contact, follow this procedure:

  1. Open the contact you want to work on. The current electronic business card for this contact appears on the right side of the contact window.
  2. Right-click the current version of the card, then click Edit Business Card to open the Edit Business Card dialog box.
  3. You’ll see numerous options and controls for editing the business card. Microsoft really made our lives easier here. They’ve included an image of the contact’s card that changes as you use the controls in this dialog box. This allows you to see the results of each change right away. That also means you can easily undo changes you don’t like and lets you freely experiment with different possibilities.
  4. Once you have selected and formatted the fields you want to appear on the card, move over to the top of the Card Design section and work your way down each control, experimenting with different settings until you get a design that you like. If you have a particular picture you want to include on the card stored on your computer, click the Image button to insert it. Click Background to apply a background color to the card.
  5. Repeat the previous two steps in any order to refine and tweak your card design until it’s exactly the way you want it. Click OK when you’re done designing.

Working with Your Electronic Business Card

Your new business card design will now be visible in Business Card view and whenever you attach it to a message you’re working on. To attach the card to a message, first position the cursor in the message at the location where you want the business card to appear. Then click Insert Business Card in the Include section of the ribbon while you’re editing the message. The card appears in the body of the message at the location specified by the cursor. The card is also attached to the message in .VCF format so the recipient can easily save it.

Learning how to work with electronic business cards is just one of the subjects covered in the fourth lesson of the 6-week online course, Introduction to Outlook 2007. If strengthening your Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 skills in this time of uncertain job prospects makes sense to you, and you like the idea of a structured class with the ability to interact with your instructor, I strongly suggest you visit IntroToOutlook2007.info to see if the course is available through a school near you.

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