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.
Haven’t you emptied your pockets, looked at the cards and wondered why you bothered to bring them back to your office. Instead, pour your conversational energy into finding a real connection, a good, solid business reason to exchange cards.
John, who has just started his own business, is looking for an accountant. You are happy to give him your accountant’s name, as well as some tips on record keeping. Ask John for his card and tell him you will call him with the information.
Give him your card, but only after you tell him why he needs it. “I hope that when you need any remodeling, or hear of someone who does, you’ll give me a call.”
Next, follow up and call him with the accountant’s contact information. The follow up is the most important ingredient for effective business networking and will help you solidify the connection. You may want to arrange a time to get together (make an appointment) to get to know each other better.
“Speak to a few people and have genuine conversations rather than rush around the room trying to grab a card from everyone. Show a genuine interest in the other person and engage in conversation rather than trade elevator pitches.” ~ Andy Lapata
I rarely go anywhere without have a few business cards with me. I was at a small event recently and after meeting this woman I asked for her card. I saw an immediate possibility that we could help each other, but when I asked I heard, “Oh, I didn’t think I was going to need any cards this morning so I didn’t bring any with me.” Oh, really? I gave her my card and asked her to send me one of hers, but most often that gets forgotten. So… for her, another missed opportunity. Guess what? I never heard from her again.
You never know when you are going to meet someone useful to you or you to them. Always be sure you have several business cards with you. I “always” carry business cards with me. If I am out to eat (and leave a nice tip), I will usually leave my card. Several years ago, I did that and about 6 months later, the waitress called me and hired me to perform her Wedding ceremony.
Larry’s NOTE: A special “Thank you!” to Anne Baber, author of “Great Connections: Small Talk and Networking for Businesspeople,” for the inspiration for this article.
Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Networking Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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