So we attend an outstanding networking event, meet some great people and collect a stack of business cards that end up on our desk. Sound familiar? So what should we do with all of these cards? Do we keep a running stack? Do we call everyone? Throw them away? There are several philosophies on this subject, but i'll just share a few ways I use business cards to help build relationships and add to my network.
Here are 5 things we all should do when we receive someone's business card.
1. Comment on the card: Most of us have business cards and we put some time and effort in designing the layout and content. This is the same for the person that just handed us a card so take some time to look at the card (front and back) and comment on it. Shape, color, title, design, etc. Just something to show it's not just another card. People appreciate it I promise.
2. Follow up email/phone call: If we have an engaging conversation before or after an event with someone, the only way to grow that relationship is to connect again. This is NOT a sales call or email. Just a friendly hello to say it was great connecting and maybe throw out an invite for lunch or coffee to further the discussion. Networking is all about building relationships. No one wants to be pitched. The more people that know what we do, the more referrals we will received. Without pressure.
3. Keep them: This one is easier said than done. I have a business card book that I keep in my bag at all times. On top of building relationships, networking is also about helping others. The more people we help, the more people help us. That being said, when we carry other business owner's cards with us and a colleague needs a service provider, we can give them the referral information on the spot. Now we are the hero or problem solver. Also, we may never know when we might need their services as well. If you have everyone's info in one spot, it's easy to access.
4. Upload the info: To piggyback on the card book above, some of us lean more towards digital "books" than physical. That's cool too! We can actually upload business cards into our smart phones with apps like Card Munch. The information (phone number, email, fax) will be populated into your contacts so you can carry the "cards" with you in your phone instead of a binder or book.
5. Connect to social media outlets: More and more business owners are on Facebook, Twitter, etc to help reach more people to grow their business. When we get someone's card, it's best to look to see if they have their Facebook Page, Pinterest profile or other social media channels on their card. If so, go ahead and "like" that page or "follow" them. Chances are, they'll follow you right back. In social media, we receive what we give.
There is not a perfect system and I am sure I left out some things (please feel free to add in the comment section at the bottom). If we consistently do these 5 simple things after we receive a new contact's business card we will not only grow our network, but build more relationships as well. Please share this article with anyone that has a stack of cards on their desk ;)