Business Card Etiquette Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
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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.

not need your business card

No Thank You, I Do Not Need Your Business Card

Imagine you’re at a networking event. You are mixing and mingling and start passing out your business cards like candy. Suddenly, someone hands it back you and says, “No thank you, I do not need your business card.” This actually happened to a BNI Member. He wrote to me, astonished, and asked what I would do in his situation. Well, here’s my answer.

Please watch this video

How and When to Deliver Your Business Card

  • 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 of 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 manners. What do you do if this happens to you?  Realize that some people just have little or no people skills and move on to someone who does.

In-Person Spamming

At a recent Referral Institute®  conference in San Francisco, one of the organization’s top trainers, Tiffanie Kellog, took a few moments  to chat with me about the concept of in-person spamming. If you’ve ever encountered people who use networking as a face-to-face cold calling opportunity, so to speak, then you’ve been the subject of in-person spamming.

Watch the video now to learn why Tiffanie sometimes compares networking to speed dating and to get our combined take on the real point of networking, where people tend to go wrong in their networking approach, and how to know when it’s appropriate or inappropriate to give another person your business card.

If you’ve had an experience with in-person spamming, please share your story in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

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