Last week I posted a blog entitled “Leverage Your Smallest Billboard” about how to make the most of one of the most powerful marketing tools you have available to you–your business card. A few days after that post went up, I received an e-mail from one of my blog readers asking if I could offer some details on the best way to go about distributing business cards when networking. She specifically wanted to know if there’s any way to tell when it’s the right time to offer your card to a new contact. So, in answer to her request, today’s blog post is all about how and when to deliver your business card.
How many times have you been to a networking function and had people come up to you and literally push their cards into your hand or pocket? Such behavior is business card abuse, and it warrants a phone call to the business card police. I call these people “card pushers.” They come directly from the school of power networking, where they’ve been taught to “Sell! Sell! Sell!”–and to do so at networking events by forcing their cards on every person they meet. Their goal for each networking event is to get rid of as many cards as they can, under the illusion that simply having a card automatically makes you part of their network. They make no real effort to develop relationships. Being on the receiving end of such aggressive card mongering feels awkward; you are being directly sold to, with no consideration of your interests or needs.
Does this sound like a cold call to you? It is–except for one thing. The seller is not safely out of reach at the other end of the line–he’s breathing in your face and grabbing your hand. It’s a situation you’d like to avoid, right? Then make every effort not to impose it on anyone else. Don’t hand out your business card unless someone asks for it.
That’s right. You read correctly. I’ll say it again to make the point. The best way to use your business card is not to give it out if people don’t ask for it. If you practice this rule while networking, you’ll be amazed at the impact you’ll have on others. You’ll find it refreshing, liberating, and, most important, controlled. You are now assured that peoople who ask for your card actually want your card. As a bonus, you save money and trees!
So, you may be asking yourself, what happens if I want to give someone my card but they don’t ask me? It’s simple . . . ask them for their card. More than likely, they will then ask you for yours as well.
After reading this, what do you think? Do you agree that this is the best way to hand out your business card when networking? Do you have any creative tactics for getting your business cards in the hands of others outside of the networking event environment? If so, how have these tactics paid off for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please share them in the comment forum below. Thanks!