10 Powerful Networking Tips Using Business Cards (Part I)

 

by Carl E. Reid, CSI
 
Whether you are looking for a job or running a business, giving out business cards is crucial to marketing your skills or services. Even as a job seeker, develop the mindset of running the business of ME Inc. Business cards speak volumes about who you are, what you offer and how serious you are marketing ME, Inc. as a business. Oh! So, you have a resume and don’t need business cards. Can you carry 10 resumes in your wallet? Do you or can you carry your resume everywhere you go? A church bell ringing lets people know they are open for business. Your business card is your bell. Here are some proven tips using business cards to increase your chances of landing a job or creating a business opportunity.


1. Never leave home without them. Before leaving home, your checklist should be expanded to include business cards, as part of "do I have my wallet/money, house keys, driver’s license?" Any “per chance” meeting is an opportunity to give out a business card. A morning run or a quick trip to the local store could be an opportunity to network. My wife and I always ask each other “do you have business cards”, before leaving the house. Make it a habit to carry business cards.


2. Insert a business card when mailing bill payments. Bills contain advertisements. Why can’t you advertise your skills or services the same way? Insert a business card with your payment. You may not think a person in South Dakota who opens your credit card bill payment can help you. Never underestimate the power of networking. A movie, entitled “6 Degrees of Separation” points out we are 6 people away from knowing someone of influence. You could be 6 people away from knowing the President of the United Sates, your favorite movie star or someone who is in a position to hire your skills or services. Each of us knows someone, who knows someone, who knows someone etc. Developing this powerful networking attitude will be a fundamental source of continued success.


3. Use proper business card etiquette. Whenever you give a business card, ask for a business card. When given a business card, don’t just take it and place it in your pocket. Make the person feel important by looking at their card for a few seconds. You might see something that could be a topic of discussion. Write comments on the card such as date, location and common points of interest. These comments will prove valuable when following up with that person. This also demonstrates a sincere interest in the other person. Then place it in your wallet. This lets them know they reside in a special place with you. "Skill with People" by Les Giblin is a book that expands on this approach. Make people feel important, in order to make yourself important to them.


4. Be generous. Give business cards out to everyone, including family and friends. Don’t let vanity stop you from giving out your last business card or giving 2 at a time to each person. I have met many people who have totally missed the purpose of a business card. I once asked a person for a second business card, so I could refer his services. His response was "I only have a few cards left and I need them", as he looked again at his name on the card. Hoarding your business cards only makes your wallet feel full, not your bank account.


5. Ask for referrals. When giving a business card, people feel more comfortable when you ask; “I would appreciate a referral, if you know anyone that could use my services”. Don’t make people feel like they are on the spot. This approach disarms people much better than asking them, “is your company hiring?” People naturally like to do favors for people. Saying “could you do me a favor by referring my services to someone”. This always places you in a better position with them. They will feel better about helping you. Give them 2 cards.


Update November 29, 2010: according to Google, this article has been well received worldwide on over 50,000 web sites and blogs - click here for Google search results
Keywords: marketing, strategy, business, sales, networking, advertising