Why Collecting Business Cards Might NOT be the Answer

When I started in business, I bravely went to my first networking group. I KNEW I needed to bring business cards with me. So I made my own. I was so proud. I wanted to give them away to everyone who would take one. And people were thrilled to give me theirs in return. I came home with a pocket full of business cards. That’s how I started collecting business cards. A cycle began: go to an event, collect business cards, go home. You’ve probably done it too.

Guess what? Collecting business cards doesn’t actually grow your business. Building a relationship with your contacts is what will grow your business.

How to STOP Collecting Business Cards and START Building Relationships

  • Only exchange cards AFTER you have a conversation. When you meet someone, the first thing you should do is have a conversation. Learn a little about them and what they do. Find out what their needs are. Once you have a little information, you will know whether this person is a potential client, strategic partner, or someone that you would like to connect to someone else.
  • ASK for the other person’s card. When you believe there is potential, ask for their business card. Don’t offer yours unless they request it. If you are forcing your card on someone who doesn’t want it, they’ll probably just throw it away anyways. Save your cards (and your money) by only giving cards to people who want one.
  • Follow up. Once you are back at the office, take out the cards you collected and do something with them. Connect with them on LinkedIn or appropriate social media. Invite them to a one-to-one conversation.
  • Give FIRST. Don’t jump to conclusions that they want to buy your stuff. You barely know them. Find ways to add value to them. If you can, connect them to someone who could be valuable to them – a prospect, resource or strategic partner.

 

Collecting Business Cards: A True Story

Collecting Business CardsRecently I attended an event. As I sat at a table and met some new people, a younger man started a conversation. He started asking me about insurance, since he was in insurance. He handed me his card and said, “You should call me. We should talk.” Yuck! He doesn’t know anything about me or what I want or need, but he wanted to sell me insurance.

Interestingly, he works in the same agency with his mother. She was also there and started up a conversation. As she got to know me, she suggested a group that she is a member of that I might benefit from. We exchanged cards and she promised to connect me to the organization. Within a couple weeks, she sent an email with more information about some events I might be interested in.

I haven’t heard from the man since the event. His mother is building a relationship with me. It may or may not lead to business for her. If it continues, I will at least send her appropriate referrals when I see a potential opportunity. Her son? He’ll get nothing out of the interaction except my business card.

It’s your choice. You can continue collecting business cards. Or you can build business relationships. The first gives you immediate proof that you’re out there meeting people, but no long-term results. The second way takes more time, but is also far more profitable in the end. If you are ready to turn that pile of business cards into cash by creating systems in your business to grow relationships, check out my new program: The Loyalty Lab. We’ll spend 16-weeks creating repeatable, relationship-building systems for your business.

How about you? Have you ever focused on collecting business cards? Have you ever met someone who does? What do you do with business cards that you do collect? What have you found most effective? Share in the comments, I’d love to hear your ideas.

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