Like the majority of sales people, I visit a huge number of clients and prospects every month, some end up buying some do not, but every single one of them has my business card. I attend business breakfasts, seminars and other networking event in my search for new contacts and ultimately new business, each person I meet also gets a business card.
One day a few years ago I realised that I not only hand out a huge number of cards, but I also receive a fair few myself. I decided to go back through some of the older ones to see if I could find some new prospects. As I started to sift through them I began to realise that most peoples cards are actually meaningless in isolation. Unless you work for one of the few companies who’s name actually reflects what you do, you may as well be writing your telephone number on a piece of paper and forgetting to add your name.
Mr Bob Jones
Without going online and looking at every single website I have no idea what the companies do!
Likewise, all those people I had been diligently handing my business card too had every conceivable method of contacting me, written there in black and white, but no idea what I do! It’s my job as a sales person to “put my face about”, make sure I am always contactable and remember as much as I can about all my prospects (with perhaps, a little help from my CRM). My prospects are also everyone else’s prospects, they do not need to remember me, and so they need a little help.
I realised the solution is simple. WRITE ON YOUR BUSINESS CARDS!!!
Here’s the scenario: The prospect gets back to the office one day and is told they need a new supplier for widgets, it’s his job to find one. He remembers speaking to a few suppliers at the seminar but can’t remember exactly who, so he quickly flips through the cards collected, then, he comes across one, he can’t remember the name or the face to match it, but, in nice clear writing it says “Widgets, budget to high end” Who gets invited in for a meeting?
I'm one of those people who guard my business cards at meetings. I don't like meaningless cardboard connections (exchanging business cards without a purpose). I'm put off by someone who says, "Hello, my name is.... Here is my business card, can I have yours?" My suspicion is that I'm going to be put on someone's junk mail list. However, by first striking a chord, you've accomplished something very important in your networking mission -- you've found a reason to extend the relationship beyond the event at which you met.
Not all prospects you meet are going to fit your ideal client (or center of influence) profile. This is especially true for me, since I have a highly specialized niche. Focus your attention on those who meet your criteria. Jot down notes on the back of the card (the reason for the solid connection), and then you'll have a conversation point in which to build your relationship at the next meeting or in your correspondence. Follow up quickly after the meeting by sending information you promised.
The Term "cardboard connection" was coined by Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon authors of "Make Your Contacts Count" www.ContactsCount.com