LinkedIn has introduced a new feature to replace paper business cards and bring real world networking into the digital age.

At networking events and conferences, attendees still rely on exchanging business cards or hastily writing down names and phone numbers on napkins to connect with those they meet – a process that has remained essentially unchanged for more than a century. But LinkedIn, the professional social network, is looking to digitise that process with the introduction of personalised QR codes for its users.

Those looking to exchange their details can now simply scan the QR code of the person they are talking with via the LinkedIn app on their iPhone or Android device, and they will become automatically connected on the platform.

LinkedIn is not the first digital platform to take on the humble business card, but with more than 500 million users already on the platform it has a significantly better chance of making a success of the idea than previous attempts by the likes of About.me or Bizzcard. Nonetheless, with attractive and unique business cards now easier to create than ever with digital printing services like Helloprint, convincing new-found business acquaintances to ditch paper for a digital alternative remains a tough task.

In the official announcement about the new feature, LinkedIn senior product manager, Alice Xiong, said: “Gone are the days of requesting a business card, asking the person to spell their name, or handing over your phone to make sure you found their profile.”

However, whilst LinkedIn talks of people printing their personal QR codes to event lanyards and booklets for easier connections, others note that the most useful place for such a code would be on a business card itself. People may not store their business cards in rolodexes anymore, but the act of exchanging cards has proved important in creating a personal memory of a meeting, and helps people put a face to a name. Maybe LinkedIn hasn’t killed the business card, but just added an extra element to print on the back?

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