By Megan Boulter, Marketing Coordinator
We live in a digital age where technology is constantly changing how we interact with professionals. One thing that hasn’t changed much is the use of the paper business card. Depending on the sources, you can find the use of business cards, in some form or another, dating clear back to the 15th century! Nowadays, you still find professionals everywhere using the business card as a first introduction icebreaker and as a contact information tool.
But let’s face it – all of us could be a little better when it comes to business cards and what we do with them. When you receive a business card, sometimes you look at it, sometimes you don’t, and sometimes it goes straight into your wallet, only to be creased, torn, discolored or never seen again. All too often, business cards end up in a dusty pile on your desk, only to be tossed out after a couple weeks or months. You may have forgotten to follow up with an important someone and now it has been ‘too long’ and is considered a ‘lost cause’. If you are guilty of any of these things (or all of them!), you’re not alone. In fact, according to Statistic Brain*, 88% of business cards handed out will be tossed within a week of receiving them.
But what if I told you things could be different, better even? What if you could create a more personal experience and capture information effectively, therefore maximizing your conference and networking event return on investment (ROI)? Sounds good, right? Here are some helpful habits to create.
- Look at the card
This may seem like common sense, but oftentimes business cards are exchanged and then shoved straight into a pocket or wallet without even a glance.
- Actually read the card
It sounds crazy, but take time to briefly read the card when you receive it. You will have a greater chance of remembering the person and their information. It also shows the recipient that you are taking an interest in them rather than just collecting their business card.
- Write notes
It’s no surprise that note taking helps us remember fine details. After you meet someone, use their business card to jot down some notes shortly after you part ways. What conference did you meet at? Is this a warm lead or an industry contact? Do you have similar hobbies or another personal similarity? Don’t expect yourself to remember everything – write something memorable that will help jog your memory.
- Make the time
After the networking event, set aside time to input the business card data and notes. Make this a habit.
- Get organized
Gone are the ages of desktop rolodexes and scrapbook sheets for business cards! Your smart phone has access to hundreds of apps that can help organize business cards. And the best part is the apps are typically free or less than $10. Some apps can even connect directly to your company’s customer relationship management (CRM) software. How cool is that?
- Follow up
Feel proud that you have made it this far! Following up is key and is where you will find the real conference ROI. Follow up within 48 hours of the event. A phone call, e-mail, or handwritten note is even better. Keep the message short and to the point. Try and work in a personal tidbit or hobby that was unique to that person. Invite them for coffee or reach out to them next time you are in their office area.
Even though today’s technology provides many efficient ways to share information, I have a feeling that business cards won’t be going away anytime soon. It’s important that you use business cards to your advantage in order to gain a competitive edge and leverage opportunities.