How and When to Deliver Your Business Card

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.

Business Card

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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! 

 

 

Networking Faux Pas: Confusing Networking with Direct Selling

In this third installment of the Networking Faux Pas Series, I discuss the danger of confusing networking with direct selling–it is often this specific point of confusion which really causes networking to go all wrong.

If your idea of networking is walking around, shaking hands, and closing deals, you owe it to yourself to watch this quick video explaining what networking is really all about and how to make sure you’re not going about it the wrong way.

If you’ve had experiences with people trying to immediately sell you on their product or service at a networking event, please tell us about it in the comment forum below.  Where were you and what happened?  What was your reaction to the person who was trying to close a deal with you before putting in any effort to get to know you? . . .

The First Phase of the VCP Process–Visibility

Last week I wrote a blog explaining the VCP Process, which is a huge part of the foundation of networking. Because this process is so crucial to effective networking, I promised to write a blog entry for each of the three phases (visibility, credibility and profitability), and today I’m going to talk about why it all starts with visibility.

The first phase of growing a relationship is visibility: You and another individual become aware of each other.  In business terms, a potential source of referrals or a potential customer becomes aware of the nature of your business–perhaps because of your public relations and advertising efforts, because of your social media presence or perhaps through someone you both know. This person may observe you in the act of conducting business or relating with the people around you. The two of you begin to communicate and establish links–perhaps a question or two over the phone or via e-mail messages about product availability. You may become personally acquainted and work on a first-name basis, but you know little about each other. A combination of many such relationships forms a casual-contact network, a sort of de facto association based on one or more shared interests.

The visibility phase is important because it creates recognition and awareness.  The greater your visibility, the more widely known you will be, the more information you will obtain about others, the more opportunities you will be exposed to, and the greater will be your chances of being accepted by other individuals or groups as someone to whom they can or should refer business.  Visibility must be actively maintained and developed; without it, you cannot move on to the next level, credibility.

I’ll talk more about credibility next week, but it’s important to understand that visibility brings the opportunity to build credibility, and credibility is what will get you to profitability, where you’ll actually benefit from your efforts. So many times people try to jump straight from visibility to profitability, and that’s not real networking; it’s just an obvious ploy to get something from your new contacts. That’s nothing more than a bad attempt at direct selling and a big waste of time.

So, how do you go about creating more visibility for your business? What are some strategies that have really worked out well for you?  I’d love to hear your comments.

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