Business Cards

Why Collecting Business Cards is Not Networking

One of the biggest mistakes people make when networking is thinking that it’s just about running around the room collecting as many business cards as possible. These are often people who don’t really like networking. However, they know they have to do it, and they think this is the best way to get it done. I’ve tried telling them that this is not networking — it’s either face-to-face cold calling or worse yet, it’s simply “card collecting” or being a “Card Dealer“.

Years ago, I ran into a couple of business partners who made a competition of collecting cards at networking events. The person who collected the least number of cards had to buy the other partner dinner that week. They were very proud of this networking strategy — seriously, they bragged about it to me. I tried to tell them that this was really not a good networking strategy. I don’t think they ever got it.

Unfortunately, I still find myself running into people who think this is a great approach to networking effectively. My co-author of Networking Like a Pro, Brian Hilliard, has given me the solution to dealing with this issue.

Barley’s Tale

Brian has a dog whose name is Barley. He’s a 55-pound Shiba Inu, which means he doesn’t like cats and he looks like a fox. Barley is a very well-trained, well-behaved dog. If you’d like to collect business cards at an event but you don’t want to spend all that time collecting the cards, here’s what you can do. You can hire Barley from Brian ($20/hour, two hour minimum + travel) to attend your next event. Brian will put a satchel around him, like a horse. And on one side he’ll place a stack of your business cards, along with a sign that says “Take One” and on the other side he’ll have a pocket that says “Leave Your Card Here.”

Brian will then drive Barley up to the event, send him into the room, and return two hours later to collect Barley and his new stack of business cards. I’m confident he’ll come out with a big stack because he’s very well trained and people really love him.

Now after you take those cards from his side pocket — and make sure to walk him, since he’ll probably need to use the restroom after all of that hard work — will he have truly networked?

Of course not! How could he possibly have networked by getting a stack of business cards?

Collecting business cards at a networking event is not networking

It sounds ridiculous, but that’s how more than a few business professionals approach their networking. It’s like a game of who can get the most cards, and it doesn’t make any sense. Collecting cards at a networking event is not networking — it’s card collecting — which is not a profitable way to build your business. If you put this in the context of Barley running around the event letting people exchange cards with him, it seems obvious.  However, if you’re still on the fence and would like to contact Brian about potentially contracting Barley’s services, please feel free to do so.

6 thoughts on “Why Collecting Business Cards is Not Networking

  1. Totally agree with this. I prefer to actually speak to the person and then, in their company, try and link with then on LinkedIn.

    This let’s then see that I am serious in having their details and we can then continue our discussion on whether or not there is an opportunity to do business with each other or our connections.

  2. Yes Networking should be net worth means ur time u spend with the other person should be worth spending and resulting to a good business pr solution or whatever u wanted to get.Just exchanging cards is like telling hi in a busy train.

  3. I am looking at folders and stacks of business cards from people I have met at meetings and other events. They are about 5 levels under even leads and no where close to a BNI referral. They represent names and that is all. The important question is what you do with those names that can make a difference. Leave them sitting there and nothing will happen. Develop a system to turn those names into referrals and business then they may become valuable. My number one rule is only ask for cards from people with whom you would like to do business or may have the potential of becoming a good referral for your BNI Business partners.That requires listening skills. Since I operate a print shop, keep handing them out, but develop a means to harness the power. Business cards alone is a like a lamp that is not plugged in. You must put some energy behind it to make it become a light.

  4. I totally agree with what is said but I would like to add one point with this. Collecting card or being a card dealer as you are said is at times good. whenever we require any contact, if we have many cards, one among them can help.
    I this is my opinion and may differ with people….

  5. Networking is more than just collecting the cards. Its all about further interacting, coordinating, negotiating etc. with the right type of business that you want build.

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