Let's say you attend a business function. You meet a top tier prospect, and give her your card. As you are driving home, you realize that twenty other people may have approached that prospect and presented their business cards. So what will make your card stand out from the collected stack?

Here are twelve ways to assure that prospects will read your card, and will become more likely to do business with you.

ONE: Keep your card reader friendly by providing ample white space. Unfortunately, we are tempted to jam as much information on the card as the printer can squeeze in.

However, people don't want to bog down by reading lengthy paragraphs. Note how short this one is, and the one before it. Easy to read, don't you think?

TWO: Display your photo on your card. Think what happens when the prospect you met at the reception flips through the cards she collected. Which people will she remember most easily? The ones with photos, of course. For many years, real estate pros have acted on this assumption, and they are right.

An important caution: Be sure to use a recent picture, no more than five years old. The person who uses an outdated picture raises suspicion. What else about them is obsolete or misrepresented?

NOTE: Recently I had a photographer take a new photo of me, which I will put on my business card and Web site soon.

THREE: Stick with a standard size. You want your card to fit the card collections others maintain. An odd-shaped card might be tossed away as too cumbersome to keep.

FOUR: Never economize on paper stock. The dollars you save won't compare with the dollars you will miss out on because prospects think you may be second rate, like your card.

FIVE: Spend what is needed to include color. Think about it-how many of your potential clients have black and white TV, cameras and magazines?

Avoid psychedelic colors unless you are a designer, artist or entertainer. Your color photo will reflect a warm, vivid personality, so there's no need to shock the senses of readers.

SIX: Include your slogan. My company slogan identifies my purpose: Helping you finish in first place! Six words are enough--if they are the right words.

SEVEN: If you have a logo, use it. Picture this in your mind: Golden Arches. Know the product? I am sure you do. Did you salivate? Probably so. That's the power of symbols.

My logo is a winner's trophy, which fits my motto of helping organizations and individuals finish first. Matches my company name as well: Championship Communication.

EIGHT: Tell readers how to contact you by phone, fax, mail and Internet. This sounds elementary, yet you would be surprised at how many marketers omit this essential data.

NINE: Keep your card current, by printing new ones when you change your office location, phone number or e-mail address. When someone gives you a business card with a new number added in pen, you rate their work second class, or worse.

TEN: Use both sides of your card for information. No need to let half the space go unutilized.

Many professionals put their mission statement on the reverse side, and show it to prospects when they meet with them.

ELEVEN: When you give your card to a prospective client, don't offer just one. Instead, ask: How many of these will you need, to share with your staff?

You will be amazed at how many more cards you will put into circulation with this simple question.

TWELVE: You may want to distribute more than one card, with each card reflecting a different service you offer. Several years ago, a retired executive handed me three business cards, each representing a new venture he had launched, with distinct services offered.