At times most of us have had business cards that have sat in the desk draw gathering dust. The reason may be that we keep forgetting to put them into our pocket. Alternatively it may be that our whole being cringes at the thought of pushing ourselves forward by passing out business cards like they were going out of fashion. The use of business cards actually requires sensitivity, thoughtfulness and a commitment to social etiquette. So here are my top four tips…
Make Business Cards Work

1) When do you give a business card? Straight away!

One of the most comfortable moments that I have found to pass a business card to someone I have just met is when they enquire, “What is it you do?” In that moment I simultaneously reach for a business card from my pocket and begin to explain that I have created a new social science Relationology about the art and science of relationships. An alternative is to wait until the end of the conversation in order to exchange business cards however there is always the possibility that the conversation will be interrupted and the opportunity will be lost.

2) What do you do if they have no business card? The only business cards that count are the ones you collect!

Of all the many thousands of business cards that I have given out over the years only a very small percentage of people have ever contacted me as a result. So the only way to guarantee being able to be in contact with a person having met them once, is if you have their contact details. Sometimes people run out of business cards so rather than expect them to email their details (which they may forget to do anyway) I reach for a jotter that I keep in my jacket pocket and invite them to scribble down their mobile and email (I find people automatically start with their name).

3) What do you do with the business card? The quick answer is I throw it away!

Not without first of all saving the contact details. I store the name, business, role, email and mobile (for most of us the postal addresses and fax number are completely irrelevant so save your time). This is something that I often do travelling between meetings or I photograph the business card with my smart phone and email it to my office. I also make a note of who introduced me to the person, or the event that we met at, so if I can’t remember the persons name I can always find them another way.

4) What do you do next? Follow through or fail!

When I meet someone that I would genuinely like to keep in contact with I always always always drop them a note afterwards. This may be as simple as an email with a warm greeting, casual reminder of where we met, very brief reference to what we discussed and a line such as ‘It would be great to keep in contact from time to time’. This has the benefit of reinforcing your name, marking you out from most other people they met at that event who will not follow through and it puts your contact details on their system.
So get out that dusty box of business cards today and make them work for you!