I Don’t Need Your Card

Imagine handing your card to someone at a networking event and having it handed back to you with “I don’t need it.”  Well, that’s exactly what happened to Juan Vides recently.  Juan found this pretty insulting, and he wrote to me to ask how I thought someone should respond in this situation.

Business Card

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

First, let me talk about giving and getting business cards.

  • A business card is a tacit invitation to make a future connection.  How you handle that connection afterward will determine how responsive your new contact will be.  So be respectful with what you do after someone gives you their card.
  • You should always have plenty of business cards with you.  It still amazes me that people go to networking events and knowingly don’t bring cards with them.  I recently read a blog where many people said they didn’t bring cards so that they wouldn’t get spammed by people they meet.  Really?  Have they never heard of a spam filter?  I use it regularly with unwanted spam.  Besides, that argument is like saying I don’t want to advertise because someone might read the ad and cold call me?  What kind of logic is that?  Buck-up, dandelion, bring cards.  It is a “networking” event!
  • The ideal scenario is to have a meaningful (even if brief) conversation with someone where they ask for your business card (how to do that is an entirely different blog).  However, that doesn’t always happen.  When it doesn’t, it is still ok to offer your business card to someone.  There is nothing wrong with that.

Refusing to take someone’s offered card is just plain bad form and it’s probably too late to send them back to Mom for retraining on how to play with the other kids in the sandbox. 

So what do you do if this happens to you?  Pick the correct choice below:

  1. Squash a cupcake on their nose and say “take that, you dandelion.”
  2. Say “Really, you [bad word, bad word] dirty [bad word], I hope I never see you again at one of these events.
  3. Let’s go outside and finish this (like someone I actually know did at a networking event!)? or
  4. Realize that some people just have little or no people skills and move on to someone who does.

The correct answer is number four however, for the record, I kind of like number one a lot. 

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16 thoughts on “I Don’t Need Your Card

  1. I found this a strange read as it contradicts many opinions I have heard from both BNI and non BNI people. I was under the impression that you always waited for people to ask for your card. That way you were able to recognise those that had a real interest in you. To just give them out randomly to everyone you meet is only helping your printer as you can be sure many will just end up in the rubbish bin. I have also experienced those that just give out cards and offer nothing until, or unless, I get in touch with them.

    No, I’m sorry but this approach just won’t work with me.

  2. I actually would never offer my card to someone who did not ask me for it. At the end of a month I often have a big stack of business cards from people. I go thru them pick out the 5 or 6 I remember talking to and just toss the rest. I really do not know what else to do with them. I used to send them to that little boy in the hospital who was trying to break the world record for the most business cards collected, but he grew up and left the hospital and they got returned to me. Then I tried to put them on Ebay, cause I heard you can sell anything on Ebay but that did not work either. I used to put them in my database but that has even less value with spam filters….So Ivan what do you do with all those unsolicited business cards that you are collecting?

    1. Hazel/Michael: I did say in the article: “The ideal scenario is to have a meaningful (even if brief) conversation with someone where they ask for your business card.” I definitely feel that is always the best approach.

      That said, people will give you a card sometimes without you asking for it. It happens to me all the time. When that happens, I take it graciously. I don’t want to EVER, EVER be the guy that hands a card back to someone and says “I don’t want it.” That’s just rude.

      1. As Visitor Host of our chapter, I recently asked a sub for one of our current membersfor his business card. He refused to give it to me as he assumed that everyone in the room knew who he was.
        He told me that he was a former President of another chapter, I asked him to sign the visitor sheet; I could not read his handwriting and fortunately he introduced himself as he gave his 60 seconds for our member. However, the name he gave was a funny “nickname” and I still was unable to announce his last name when it was his turn to tell about himself.
        I called him by the name he used in his commercial. I can only hope that he changes his tactics next time.
        I of course was offended and he did not make a very good impression on me. Will I ever use his services? Probably not.

        1. Patti, you are absolutely correct! From time to time I’ll attend a chamber event or some other organization and I’ll run into someone who says they don’t carry cards because everyone knows them. I generally say that’s an interesting approach because I have no idea who they are. Doing business like that reminds me why 50% of all businesses fail within five years.

  3. I often heard about waiting for people to ask for your card too. But I don’t believe in that. MOST people are not REALLY interested in your card beside being able to contact you to sell anyway, unless you really fall on the right person. But again, this is another topic. No business asks me if I want to see their ads on TV, in magazine or on the highway, so I feel the same about my card. It make advertising for my business! If your card has something interesting and you intro is as interesting, they will remember you. Then if they have the BNI thinking, they might refer you to someone else. It happened to me a few times.

  4. I always offer my card if the person I am talking to is expressing any interest in me or my business. Some will not ask for a card being embarrassed that they don’t have one themselves. As a designer and printer, I am also proud of my business card and there is always more room for conversation around it (http://twitpic.com/4a32an/full).

  5. There are many valid points expressed in the article and in the replies. The Business Card Advertiser hands out business cards. Hey, I used to be one! We’ve probably all been recipients. I found it to be relatively ineffective, somewhat annoying to others and generally a waste of money. Strategic networking is a better way. I’ve discovered that I need to always ask for the other person’s business card. If I’m offered a business card before I ask, I always accept it and read it. At the very least, it helps me to remember the person’s name. I always wait for the other person to ask for my card. Does that help to build relationships? At least it makes me stand out as the person who waited to be asked. And yes, people nearly always ask. I also have more than one pocket in which to place business cards that I receive. Follow-up and Trash.

  6. If it is someone you really want to connect with how about saying “sorry I just gave my last card out, why don’t we schedule a time to meet over a cup of coffee?” Do you think that is being to aggressive?

    1. Hi Keith. My inclination is that if you’ve made a good enough connection in the conversation with the person, then having a card or not having a card won’t make a difference in whether they say yes to setting up another time to meet. They’d likely say yes or no depending on the conversation – not the card.

      1. I agree with you. I was at a networking event today. I introduced myself to someone at the event and he asked me to e-mail him later this week. He didn’t have any business cards on him so he just wrote down his e-mail address. If someone wants to meet with you, they will just do it. Business cards or not.

  7. I was at a networking meeting the other day, where the process was to send your card around the table as you introduce your self, this one lady proudly stood up and said she does not carry cards…

    By the end of the meeting she was writing her contact info on stickies notes.

    I think the mistake people make is that if they do not see you as a direct synergy partner , they do not see the value.
    I for example am a very good connecter, I have passed on 194,000 in closed business to others in non related fields, and most of that came from people I barely knew. ** and that is only what we have kept track of, I am sure it is much higher then that.

    A most recent example, is I was walking behind someone , struck up a conversation with them, with a few minutes found that their dream was to open up a restaurant. I connected with with a general contractor , now 6 months later have helped them through all the red tape , and as I write he is building their restaurant.
    and my whole conversation with that person lasted for less then 5 minutes.

    .

    If people have a stack of useless business cards, then they fully do not embrace the ideology of THE FORTUNE IS IN THE FOLLOWUP , one never knows who someone knows.

  8. Good debate!
    Conversation then card if appropriate i.e. if I like the person and think we’re on a similar wavelength. I usually try and Link In with people soon afterwards too, so that I don’t lose contact.
    p.s. in my experience it’s more likely to be a custard cream as weapon of choice rather than a cupcake!

  9. A good leader (as well as a decent human being) Never EVER (even if they deserve it) makes someone feel bad about themselves or embarrasses them in public.

    It turns you into the same bad mannered boor that this spammer was.

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