Trade ‘em, swop ‘em, put ‘em in the mail – whatever you do, don’t leave home without a few up your sleeve (literally)
Okay sure. Business is increasingly being done via digital every day and so print is dying and business cards don’t matter. Right? Not so fast, boetie. Even in the dot-com world we find ourselves today, business cards offer a lot because (rand-for-rand) they are your single most powerful marketing investment – it’s compact, energy-efficient, low-cost, low-tech, and keeps working for you hours, weeks and even YEARS after it leaves your hands!
Certainly, it may be faster and even normal now for people to collect info on their smartphones right there on the spot and simply asking you to email them. Smartphones have made information sharing easier. These days you can email someone while you’re meeting them with a few quick taps of your thumb. So why bother with a card when you have all of this other stuff? Because networking is about making meaningful connections, and sometimes technology—or the act of using it—can be impersonal and get in the way of that.
Meeting someone in person only to look down at your phone and start tapping away can seem rude and disconnected. You want to smile, make eye contact, and make the conversation you’re having be your main focus. Without the card, you’ll be worrying whether they have the same information sharing app; when exactly you should interject to ask for their email so that you can immediately send them your info before they forget how amazing you are and never call; and all the rest of it instead of focusing on the physical conversation in the moment and building a rich connection. Technology can still be used to enhance your experience, yes, but business cards already use one of the best information sharing apps out there: your hands. Until we actually can look someone in the eye to share information, you’re better off keeping conversations personal and connected.
Business cards still matter because (quite honestly) our memory sucks. How many times have you met someone, spent most of the conversation thinking of what to say so you don’t sound stupid, then promptly forget their name when it’s all over? Safeguard your face from a splash of egg by using business cards, but remember that they’re no good just sitting in your pocket or forgotten in your car console. When you hold a business card, you are the main act of your company and it’s up to you to deliver an Oscar worthy performance. You’re in the spotlight and it’s time to shine or fade away so don’t be shy. If you think of your business card as a mini-billboard for your company, you’ll realize that you need people to see it in order for it to be effective.
So here are hard learnt KDS lessons about networking more effectively with those stellar works of art you have up your sleeve:
1. You give them out with your hands, so always keep them handy
Pretty obvious starting point right? But you’ll be surprised how many people we’ve met that actually have more credit cards than business cards on them! Keep them in your pocket, wallet, purse, on your desk and even in your car. You never know when you’ll need to introduce yourself so make stocking up on cards a part of your morning routine before leaving home each day. Checking for your keys? Check for more cards too. Keep replenishing your stock.
2. Store your cards in a nice holder so they don’t get bent
Keeping a stylish business card holder on hand serves a few purposes other than running the risk of looking somewhat sophisticated. Firstly it makes for a better presentation when you hand your cards out. Likewise, it allows you to treat others’ cards well when you accept them.
Spend a few moments reading the card closely before you put it away. Mishandling their business card is a sure way to leave the prospect unimpressed. If your contact information should change, have new cards printed immediately. Writing in your new email address or phone number creates a terrible perception of your brand (and by extension, yourself) in the person’s mind.
get yourself one of these bad boys for a more professional image when networking or prospecting
3. Tired of handing out your own cards? Delegate!
Create a referral system to leverage your business cards as the magical sales tool it is. Have a bulletin board up in your office reception where others can post their cards in return for passing out your cards to others. If you see a lucky-draw hat offering a drawing for a prize, throw your business card in.
Don’t be shy to ask for referrals. When giving a business card, people feel more comfortable when you ask; ‘I would appreciate a referral, if you know anyone that could use my services’. Take theirs and offer to do the same. People naturally like to do favours for people. Saying ‘could you do me a favour by referring my services to someone and I’ll do the same for you’, will always place you in a better position with them. They will feel better about helping you. Give them 3 cards (1 for them, 2 for referrals).
4. Use that business card like an American uses his credit card!
Pull out that business card when you meet anybody and everybody – friends and family included. Be proud of your work and be proud of your company. We’ve seen so many people say they didn’t want to give out too many indiscriminately because they didn’t know what people would think of them. If you DON’T give out any card at all, they won’t be thinking about you anyway! Let’s rephrase that – you WANT people to be thinking about you! That’s what good marketing is about! If you have to tell someone that you can’t give them another card because you’re running out and you need the rest, then you’re totally missing the purpose of the business card. Hoarding your cards only makes your pocket feel full, not your bank account.
Spend a few moments reading the card closely before you put it away
5. Personalise your interaction to make yourself more indispensible
When giving out your card, hand-write something on one copy, such as your cell number, a secondary e-mail address, etc. This will give that particular card a greater chance of being held onto. Throwing back to our previous tip: be sure you give a couple of “clean” cards to that person, as well, and ask your new friend to pass one on to a potential customer. After you get someone’s card and have ended your time with them, make notes on the back of the card to jog your memory about something special in that conversation that’ll help you remember them. Bringing this up in your follow up correspondence will impress the person and build a more solid relationship. Don’t jot down in front of them though, or you run the risk of making the impression that you are forgetful. If you need to record information immediately during your discussion, such as telephone numbers or other data not on the card, use one of your own cards. You don’t want them thinking you view their card as scrap paper.
6. Random acts of kindness – good for the soul, good for business too
Be a bit innovative with your distribution of cards even when shopping or having a night out. Leaving the shop after getting the groceries? Take a few minutes to write a personal note to a few cars in your row – say something like “you have great taste in cars! Have a nice day J”
At a restaurant after date night, leave your card with the tip and write a personal thank-you note on the back for the waiter. You can even pay the toll fee for the Mercedes behind you, and leave your card for the driver with some quirky message scribed on the back. Not only will you get the personal satisfaction that comes with doing something to make a stranger smile, but you will also increase the chances of a follow up.
7. As a business owner or manager, have business cards printed for all staff members, right down to the lowest ranking person
The novelty of the cards for those who usually don’t have them will entice employees to hand them out. At the same time, you’ll make them feel appreciated. Your employees (people or human capital) are part of your network and are in fact your best competitive advantage so be nice.
That’s right – absolutely EVERYBODY should have a card to show off their affiliation to your company with pride. You never know where your next job could come from
Those extra customers you’ve been searching for are all around and the business card can be the ace up your sleeve to win them once and for all! As a general rule of thumb, if you shook their hand after making a connection, you give out your card. Your sales success really is limited to just your imagination and willingness to put yourself out there..