The Business of your Business Card

Blog by Julian Summerhayes. 699 words.

It was easy:

Name.

Firm name.

Contact details.

But now:

Name.

Firm name.

Email.

Website.

Skype.

QR code.

Video.

Twitter.

LinkedIn.

Design in abundance (well sometimes).

Yet, despite the plethora of detail, you take the giving and receiving of cards far too lightly. How many cards do you have which are lost in a drawer or, if you are organised, in a alphabetically sorted filing system [yes but what do you do with them?].

In the old days, your business cards were your network. I still have all my cards from the late 1980s when I started in recruitment. Yes, I would have transposed their details to my Rolodex but I generated a lot of business  based upon those cards. I can still picture now some of my old clients based on their card.

I had a systemised process for making the most of them:

  • Exchange business cards.
  • Send a hand-written thank you note.
  • Contact the person within a short period of time.
  • Go and see them.
  • Spend time visiting their premises.
  • Take their instructions.
  • Send another hand-written thank you note and possibly our cards are exchanged again.
  • Write to confirm my retainer.
  • Advertise the post.
  • Produce a shortlist of candidates.
  • And place the candidate.

And all the time reverting to the business card as the medium of choice with which to complete the project, and develop the relationship.

Don’t underestimate the power of the business card. Be proud of the fact that you have one. Make more of it. I don’t mean use it to advertise, but give the recipient a reason to check you out. QR codes are fine but right now all they lead to is a bit of bland video. How about something more WOW? Your latest project. A client recommendation. Or a free download showcasing your firm’s services.

There is business to be had in your business card.

Some firms will routinely expect the detail to be transposed to their CRM system but that just makes the card feel disposable. Don’t be seduced into thinking of it as another thing to dispose of – there is gold in them there hills.

I am not saying that you shouldn’t prune your cards from time to time but put in place a quarterly programme that reminds you to follow up on promises that you made. And don’t think always about selling. The idea should be to introduce others. You need to be seen as the big cheese on the block.

When it comes to networking too many firms rely on their old contacts to make up the numbers. There is nothing wrong with keeping in contact with fans of the firm, but why don’t you start inviting people to events that have never previously received an invite? Don’t always look at each contact for their financial spend. There shouldn’t really be any agenda save for one: expand your network. Given the power of social media, you can never tell how things are going to work out, even if the person you are dealing with seems lightweight. My raison detre is to try and meet with at least one new person a week and go for a coffee or better still lunch.

I sense that a lot of people have given up on business cards. They don’t see them as relevant in these Web 2.0 days. And you can see why. The business card cries out for that personal connection that is sorely lacking.

I appreciate that sometimes there is more than a compunction to proffer your card. Quite a few networking events now require you to hand over your business card whether you wish to do so or not. If nothing else, make sure that you follow up with each person to remind them of what you do and you may be able to help them or introduce them to others who may be able to help them. Don’t simply ignore them.

Ultimately, it is your choice whether you decide to make more of your cards than you do at the moment.

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