There's nothing better than going to a networking event or a conference and coming home or back to
your hotel room with a stack of business cards, right? Not so much! When you break it down, business cards offer you and the person you're interacting with a unique opportunity to make an impression on a new acquaintance and offer him or her a tangible piece of real estate from which he or she can connect with you later.
Think back to your last networking event and remember the individual who walks, grabs a quick handshake, presses the business card into your hand and walks away… what kind of impression is that? Do I really want to 1) do business with that person? 2) chase her down and have a bit of a "getting to know you" talk? Not really. This person has broken the unspoken "rules" of Business Card Etiquette 101.
- I know, I know I said you won’t want to accept the card from the walk-by handshaker and card presser, but you don’t want to out and out refuse to take a card. It’s never a good idea to offend someone. If you think you will not want to connect with this person in the future, graciously accept the card and toss it in the privacy of your room.
- Once you’ve met someone and are exchanging cards, take a moment to read through theirs. Asking questions about the name of their business, pet or services offered is a great icebreaker. Make a note on the back to help you remember later why you wanted to connect with this person, ie. “social media guru in the ferret area.”
- Offer your card to the person with whom you are interacting. It is professional to exchange cards with the person in front of you – after all, you’re talking to them with the hope of building a relationship, right?
- Sort the cards once you get back to your hotel room. Whether you put the information into your computer address book or keep the hard copy cards or scan them, it’s best to take care of them before you misplace them.
- Follow up is crucial. You will meet so many people at BlogPaws that you will leave there with your head spinning from all of the contacts you’ve made and the opportunities that were presented. If you don’t follow up with the individuals you met, you will be missing out on potential opportunities. You don’t have to wait for someone you met to contact you first. Take the initiative and build the relationship.
There are myriad places online from which you can order business cards, design them yourself and have them delivered to your door in plenty of time for the conference. Do you have business cards? Do you have enough business cards for the conference? You don’t want to run out!