Do you attend networking events with the intention of collecting all the business cards you can and giving out as many business cards while you’re there?
That is a big mistake!
Most folks think if you go to enough events and pass out enough business cards the phone will begin ringing. That is seldom ever true. Even if you do get some business that way, you still have to do what is necessary to build and cultivate that relationship so they continue to do business with you and/or send you referrals.
Networking is about building long-lasting relationships!
Business cards are valuable and should be treated as such. Keep your business card to yourself until someone asks for it or unless you feel it is someone you would like to keep in touch with. Only ask for cards or contact information from people with whom you intend to follow up.
Write notes on the back of the other person’s business card. It will help you to recall the conversation later. This demonstrates a sincere interest in the other person. If you can’t take notes during the conversation, then jot down whatever you can remember from your chat immediately after you leave. When attending a networking event a useful thing to take with you is a “Sharpie” pen. It can be difficult to write on many business cards because thay have a laminate finish on them. A “Sharpie” will write on almost anything.
There has been some buzz lately about the demise of the business card. For some it has become trendy to announce to people that you do not carry business cards, as they are “so yesterday” or that you are doing this to save the environment. That is a truckload of “you know what!”
Business cards make it easy for people to contact you. Most are inexpensive and can become your office mini-billboard. If it takes an effort to locate you, they may simply turn to your competition. Not having a business card could lead to a missed opportunity.
When someone offers you their card; the courteous thing to do is to thank them. Take it and and immediately begin to read it. Reading what is printed on it, enables you to make a connection with the person giving it to you. It also says that you care and respect the card that has been given to you.
If you establish common interests on the spot, exchange business cards and ask whether they prefer being contacted by e-mail or phone. That is a common courtesy.
By the way, some find it handy to carry a mini-appointment calendar. That way, if the opportunity presents itself, you can arrange a time to get together on the spot. This eliminates saying, “Call me Tuesday and we can set up a time to get together.” In other words – “strike while the iron is hot!”
Carry lots of business cards! Never leave home or the office without them. Saying, “I just gave out my last card!” smacks of poor planning.
On your way to a networking event? Before leaving home, put some extra business cards in your pocket, purse or show a little class by having a beautiful shiny business card case. It’s a great habit to have. Be prepared.
It really doesn’t matter whether you are on the way to a networking even or stopping for a soda at the local Quik Trip®, professional meeting, social gathering, party, wedding, or anywhere. . . carry business cards with you. You never know when you may have an opportunity to network. I have a special water-proof plastic pouch that I carry with me if I’m at the pool.
I repeat. . . never go anywhere without business cards. Never! I keep a stack in each of my suit jackets and coats, in my wallet, in my briefcase, in my home, and a plastic case with about 100 extra business cards in my car.
Hot idea: The next time you have business cards printed, ask your printer to give you a .jpg image of your business card to add to the bottom of you e-mail as a signature.
Never run out of business cards. Always order before you need them. I don’t recommend printing your own cards. Most look cheap and do not leave a good impression.
Remember to always follow-up by asking someone you have just met how YOU can help THEM!
Have a favorite vendor? Professional networkers carry a supply of other people’s business cards with them as well. Why? Because other people’s cards can assist you in helping your friends spread the news about their business. Remember the 3rd party referral is usually a terrific way to demonstrate your own creativity as a networker. Find a need and fill it. Carrying a selection of other people’s business cards gives you a much greater opportunity of being able to converse about something that’s important to your potential contact.
Take your business cards with you e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e you go!
Want to get real creative with your cards?
Here’s Joel Bauer’s take on business cards. Love him or hate him, he’s got his opinions.
Copyright © 2009 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Visit ” Networking HQ!”
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