Over the last few months I’ve been working with an association to increase connections at their convention. In an age where information is found with one click and we count “likes” as engagement, conventions hold the promise of meaningful in-person connection with like-minded colleagues. Only through thoughtful and strategic planning will this promise become a reality.
Prior to my work with the association I asked questions about their membership and the culture they had created at their convention over the last 3 decades. That’s when I discovered that a lot of the front-line staff attending this event would likely not have business cards. As I shared in episode 14, “Are Business Cards Dead?” http://wp.me/p5T01T-aA even in the age of smartphones and apps, business cards are a critical tool for networking. This episode’s title is “The ABCs of Business Cards” because I believe you should Always. Bring. Cards. Remember those ABCs and you’ll be ready to make connections.
Later in this episode I’m going to cover how to proceed if you decide to design and print your own business card. But first, let me review a few reasons to be sure you remember to pack yours the next time you’re heading to a conference or other networking event.
When you receive or share a business card it acts as a physical reminder of your conversation and any follow-up you hope will happen. That won’t happen if you write yourself a note in your phone, send yourself an email, or use an app to exchange contact cards.
Before passing your card, jot a note on the back about what you talked about or the resource you hope they’ll remember to share when they get back to the office. Do the same when you receive a card – and also add the date and name of the event. This will increase the odds that you’ll actually do the follow-up you said you’d do.
It’s unlikely that when you get home, you empty your pockets and toss all the business cards you collected into the recycling bin without a second glance. If someone hands you a cocktail napkin or scrap of paper with their contact info on it, there is a much higher probability that you’ll end up tossing it into the trash, maybe even before you get home – because it just doesn’t look important. Don’t let this happen to your contact info when you are trying to stay connected.
If you attend a large conference or several networking events each month, you’re likely going to receive lots of business cards. Accept them from everyone who offers, but keep track of the ones that you want to prioritize. One way to do that is to turn down a
corner on each of those cards and write notes on the back of them. This will help you easily distinguish these priority business cards when you get home.
If you keep track of the cards you want to prioritize and have a follow-up email drafted already, you will be able to send follow-up messages with ease. You’ll find detailed steps for drafting your follow-up email prior to going to the event in episode 16, titled “Networking for Introverts” http://wp.me/p5T01T-aN.
Sometimes, when you are looking to change careers, it’s not appropriate or helpful to hand out a business card from the company you currently work for. You might want to have inquiries go to a different email address or brand yourself in a completely different way. Even if you aren’t looking to change jobs, you might find yourself looking for scraps of paper to share information about a side project you’re working on. You realize that giving scraps of paper with your contact info on it is basically asking for it to be thrown away, so maybe it’s time for you to design a business card for that side project.
If you’re between jobs and you’re actively looking, I encourage you to design a card. You might be wondering what would you put on this card since you don’t have a title? I’ve coached clients to put an aspirational title on their card as this leads to more meaningful conversations at conferences and other networking events. If you are in college or grad school you could put the year you graduate and your anticipated degree. This is more like a calling card than a business card, but will keep you from hunting for scraps of paper when you make a solid connection.
This is not a major investment; it costs $20 or less for a box of 250 business cards at a site like VistaPrint, so feel free to create a few different cards.
The design and formatting of a business card is a personal choice, but there are some elements that should be considered.
Decide ahead of time what information to include on your business card that will make it easier for new contacts to learn about you and your work. Job-hunting? Include your LinkedIn link. Are you a photographer? Include a link to your portfolio. Don’t like to receive random calls on your cell phone? You have a few options. You can set up a Google Voice number, or only list a landline, or leave a phone number off entirely so all inquiries have to go through your email.
Whatever links you include should be as professional looking as possible. For instance, request a personalized LinkedIn URL (e.g. www.linkedin.com/in/robbiesamuels). Do not copy & paste that long URL at the top of your profile that includes random letters and numbers.
The same is true for your email address. Do not use your Hotmail, Yahoo, or dare I say an AOL account from 20 years ago. Ideally you’ll set-up an email that is tied to a website. If you do not have a website, you can purchase a domain and have it point to your LinkedIn profile. The email address would then be firstname.lastname@example.org. For example email@example.com. If you’re not ready to do that, set up a Gmail account with your full name. Ideally the name on your email will match the name on your LinkedIn personalized URL. That will make the card look more professional.
If this is a business card for a web-based business, individual consultant, or someone looking for work – then do not include a physical address. If you travel a lot or attend conferences several times a year, you may wish to put your city and state on the card.
I recommend against designing a non-standard size business card as those are more difficult for the recipient to file and, in my experience, are more easily lost in the shuffle. I also don’t recommend designing business cards that have black backgrounds on both sides. This makes it difficult for the recipient to jot down a note as they receive your card
– or you from jotting a note as you hand the card over. If you are featuring your photography or artwork on one side, than leave some white space on the other side.
Bottom line. Business cards are important. They also are not the point of networking. Consider them a means to an end – the goal being building a supportive network based on strong relationships.
ABOUT ROBBIE: www.robbiesamuels.com/about
Business Growth Strategy Coach
Robbie coaches inspiring entrepreneurial women in their 50s and beyond (and a few awesome men) to grow their impact and income by building an audience before launching new revenue streams.
WHO YOU ARE:
You want to have a greater impact and increased income. The problem is that there are so many options for how to build your business that you can feel stuck, overwhelmed, and like you’re running out of time.
The reason options are overwhelming is that you’re looking at them as a series of disconnected steps when to make the most of your time, you need a strategy that connects only the most important and highest impact ones.
You know that if you try to do everything, you’ll accomplish nothing. This means, to achieve your goal, you have to invest in a strategy to put time on your side.
WAYS ROBBIE OFFERS SUPPORT:
As a relationship-based business growth strategist, Robbie will work with you one-on-one to design a year-long plan that consists of three 12-week sprints, each followed by 4 weeks of reflection/assessment, rejuvenation, learning, and strategic planning. This will allow you to sequence your goals, create momentum, and leverage your limited time.
Have a project that you want feedback on or need assistance with a specific strategy? He offers half-day strategy sessions.
Already selling but feeling stuck around how to increase your revenue? Sign up for a one-day mastermind with fellow entrepreneurs to break through to the next level.
Ready to dig into your network to validate a solution you’ve been working on to see if you can build an audience for it before launching? Sign up for 12 Weeks to Create Your Irresistible Offer program.
Want accountability, support, and guidance as you implement your strategic plan? Learn more about his year-long Wake Up Your Network mastermind program.
These are not right for everyone; they're personalized offerings and are priced accordingly.
WHAT MIGHT YOU WORK ON?
In his coaching work with entrepreneurs, his clients focus on the areas where they'd like to grow, which may include:
- Creating a strong sales conversation framework
- Building your referral network
- Lead generation through a relationships
- Growing your visibility in your industry
- Increasing your ability to attract the right kind of clients
- Identifying and launching a minimally viable offer
- Breaking through whatever bottleneck is holding you back from getting the results you want and deserve
- Becoming a published author and marketing your book successfully
- Improving your virtual presentation skills
LEARN MORE AND SCHEDULE A CHAT: www.robbiesamuels.com/coaching
Robbie is excited to support you in reaching or exceeding your goals.
Interested in booking Robbie to speak? At www.robbiesamuels.com/speaking you’ll find video clips and a description of his talks.
Watch his TEDx talk “Hate networking? Stop bageling and be the croissant!” at www.robbiesamuels.com/TEDx.
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