If you’re like most in business, you have a large and ever-growing collection of business cards. You may get these at networking events as well as from people you meet in various situations. How many of these business cards have ever translated into a sale or new client?
In most cases, business cards get forgotten in a desk drawer or some form of ‘Rolodex’ and don’t accomplish anything. If you use them correctly, however, you can make good use of business cards.
Why Business Cards are Still Important
Are business cards even relevant in the digital age? After all, when you meet people nowadays, it’s just as easy to add them as a contact on your smartphone or tablet. Why bother with paper cards at all? The fact is, business cards are still worth using for several reasons. They serve as a visual and tangible reminder of someone’s existence. Even with all our electronic devices, it’s still convenient to have printed cards you can hold in your hand. It also gives you a chance to hand out your own cards, giving others tangible evidence of your meeting.
Tips to Get the Most Out of Business Cards
Let’s look at some strategies for making the best possible use of the business cards you receive.
- Qualify people before exchanging business cards. While it doesn’t do any real harm to collect business cards from everyone you meet, it’s more efficient to focus on genuine prospects. Ask people a few relevant questions about what they do and what they need before deciding if you need to follow up. This kind of qualification process will increase the value of the cards you do collect.
- Make some notes on the cards you receive to prompt later recollection about where you met, what they do e.g. virtual CFO or some other titbit that may be useful in a future conversation.
- Use high-tech and low-tech strategies. In addition to taking someone’s business card, it’s a good idea to add them as a contact on your device as well. This makes it easy to call or email them later. There are plenty of free apps that will scan business cards and store the data on your device to save the typing the details. Offer to send them your card details electronically. This saves them the trouble of typing the details and ensures your details are stored in their device.
- Make a firm commitment to contact the other person. When you exchange business cards, do so in a way that establishes a definite plan to talk soon. Confirm this with a question such as, “When is the best time to contact you?” Also, ask the person his or her preferred method of contact – phone call, email, LinkedIn, Messenger or similar.
- Organise your business cards. One reason that business cards are often ineffective is that people lose them or leave them in random places. Use an efficient system for storing the business cards you collect. Preferably in a CRM but a traditional ‘Rolodex’ style system is better than nothing. There are now several business card apps that make it easy to do this. The point is to keep the information in a place where it’s easily accessible when you need it.
- Research and qualify your contacts. It’s always good to qualify people before planning to contact them later. A business card lets you take this a step further, providing you with a good introduction to someone’s reality. It gives you a convenient way to look them up on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and perhaps on other professional networks. Doing a little research helps you learn more about the person and how he or she might fit into your future. It also helps you qualify (or disqualify) people, letting you know if they’re a good fit for your products or services.
- Follow up promptly. If you promise to contact someone after taking his or her business card, do so promptly. If you contact people within a day or two of meeting them, they’re more likely to remember your conversation.
No matter how advanced our technology gets, it’s still useful to use traditional marketing methods such as business cards. The cards you receive, as well as those you hand out, help you establish visual reminders with potential clients or investors. If you keep business cards organised and remember to follow up with your leads, this traditional networking tool can still be very useful.
About David Officen
David is the Founder and Managing Director of proCFO. David combines an accounting and consulting background with commercial experience both as a manager for large commercial businesses and as the owner of private and family businesses.