Over the holiday period I had a tidy up and threw away many hundreds of old business cards. I had collected (or simply been given) them at business networking events and business meetings over the last few years. These days I am more interested in noting whether the person I meet is on Linkedin. If so I will connect with them there.
Many of the hundreds and hundreds of business cards I threw away had little notes on the back. I typically write the date and place we met and add a note of anything I have promised to do by way of follow up. Sometimes I note some facts that may prove useful if we meet again.
I looked at the name and business details of every single business card in my collection before deciding which ones to throw away. Three things struck me:
- How few of the people I could remember;
- How few of the cards made clear the nature of the business they provide – whether I would have remembered weeks later is in doubt. Months or years later it’s impossible; and
- How few of the people had followed up with me. They will have given me their card but could only follow up with me if they had asked for mine. I only offer it on request. Even if they had concluded that I was not in the market for their services they will not have known who I know or to whom I could introduce them. So many wasted opportunities, so much wasted time and so much wasted money. Sadly I think I made the same mistake myself in many cases – but not, I would add, when I noted an action to take as I’m sure I kept my promises.
Back in 2007 I wrote a blog post here: No one refers work to a business card. Reviewing and binning hundreds of them over the last couple of days has certainly reinforced that view, hence this follow up post.
Also on this theme is another post: What makes an effective business card for ambitious accountants? To the list in that old post I would add one thing: These days it makes sense to include reference to your Linkedin profile and/or twitter account. After all, if the purpose of a business card is to make it easy for the other person to contact you afterwards or to connect others to you, it makes sense to list all the ways THEY might choose to do this.
I would add that so many of the business cards I have thrown away, especially those from accountants (I’m sorry to say) were pretty boring and interchangeable. Look out for a separate post soon with 7 mistakes accountants make with their business cards and tips on how to avoid them reinforcing that old boring stereotype.
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If you would like to book me to speak on the subject at your in-house conference or training session, do get in touch. There’s an outline of my talk on ‘How to ensure your networking activity is successful’ here>>>