#1. Always have your business cards with you.
You know you need your cards at networking events. You also need them everywhere else you go. Your next business, career or life opportunity can pop up anywhere, anytime. Cards help you exchange contact information quickly and thoroughly, so always have a stack of cards with you. I bring mine to the beach, to dance class, and even to my mother’s home for dinner. And I use them.
#2. Keep your cards in a dedicated business card holder.
Your card holder can be branded, blinged out, extra large, or even basic black. As long as you keep your cards in a dedicated carrying case. Binder clips and elastic bands don’t say “I’m serious about my career”. And don’t shove them in your wallet with last week’s receipts. Whether your style is colorful or conservative, present yourself as the professional you are, and take networking seriously. Respect the cards, respect yourself and respect the people you meet, please.
#3. Keep your card holder handy.
Your card exchange should be professional. You don’t want to be searching through your makeup bag, gym clothes or office files while a potential client waits impatiently.
#4. Create a system for organizing the cards you give and receive.
Stay organized when you exchange cards, so you can keep track of who you meet, and follow up appropriately. My personal preference is to keep my cards in the front of my card case, and put the cards I receive in the back of the case. That way, I can easily see when it’s time to restock. Some people who don’t use cases (oh no! see tip #2) keep their own cards in one pocket and keep the cards they receive in another pocket. That’s helpful if you’re wearing a suit jacket with two or more pockets. But not everyone wears suits anymore. And cards can easily fall out of pants pockets. And many women’s dresses and jackets don’t even have pockets. Handing out someone else’s card is a mistake you definitely want to avoid. [bctt tweet=”Choose a system that prevents you from mixing up your cards with others people’s cards.” username=”fireballdeena”]
#5. Offer your card.
At some point in the conversation, offer your card to the people you’re talking to I do not recommend shoving your card into someone’s hand before you even introduce yourselves. I do recommend exchanging cards after an initial conversation. Or gracefully presenting your card as you’re talking about your company, project or clients. Or use the card exchange to close the conversation and ask for a follow up meeting.
#6. Ask for a card.
If you want to connect with people and follow up on relationships and leads, you need their contact information. It’s both practical, and psychologically smart, to ask for someone’s card.[bctt tweet=”It’s both practical, and psychologically smart, to ask for someone’s card.” username=”fireballdeena”] When you don’t ask for my card, I wonder if a) you don’t know how to network, b) you’re not serious about your career or business c) you’re not taking me seriously or d) you just crashed the event for free drinks.
#7. Look at it!
Look. At. The. Business Card. I find it extremely insulting when someone takes my card and shoves it into their pocket, bag or card case without even glancing at it. Those people are usually the same ones who complain, “How do you remember all the people you meet? I never do.” Of course not – they’re not paying attention! Show some respect to the person you’re meeting. Pay attention, and take networking seriously. Hold the card, read it carefully, and absorb the information. Look at the person who handed you their card and associate their face with their name, title and company. Cards are valuable visual cues to increase your memory retention. A single card can also offer a lot of valuable information to help you build a connection, prioritize your leads and set follow up activities. ‘I see your office is on east 42nd street. We’re at 44th & Lex. Let’s grab coffee next week’. Or ‘I see you have offices in New York, New Jersey and Arizona. So do we. Let’s get together and compare notes on local events, leaders and trends.’
Now grab your cards, get out of your office and go network!
#8. Bonus Business Card Tip.
Want to know our *secret* bonus tip?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject header “bonus business card tip”.