Is a business card the plastic of the networking world?

ID cards at Networking event

Is a business card the plastic of the networking world?

You’ve surely been there……..? A business conference or a networking event and you spy someone meandering between tables and chairs, dropping a business card onto every place setting. 

Now this may seem like a good idea, but really it’s just a numbers game, it looks a mess and quite frankly it’s a waste of trees. How many of those business cards will get left on the table? How many will be taken away only to fall into the nearest bin back at the office? 

The data vulture 

The same can be said for the printed delegate list or a business card box. Yes, it’s a privilege for attendees, but these resources are often abused by those same business card fly-tippers. These are the people who visit referral marketing meetings or business conferences for the main purpose of collecting data. Your data! They will see the delegate list and the contact details printed on them as gold dust and they will collect every card from the business card box.

When was the last time you received an email from someone claiming to have met you at an exhibition or seminar yet you haven’t got a clue who they are? GDPR has stopped some of the inbox intruders in their tracks BUT still, somehow, days after you attended a conference or a business meeting you seem to have miraculously subscribed to a promotional email list from a company you’ve never heard of! It happens all too often and it’s vexing. Although it could be viewed that because you ticked a box somewhere (or failed to) or agreed to include your business cards in a members’ box that you are happy to be contacted. Who knows, it’s a fine line… 

The speed scavenger

If the process is not organised efficiently, speed networking can have a similar outcome to an encounter with the data vulture. The sheer number of people, who you exchanged a garbled one-minute introduction with, can leave you overwhelmed and confused. Plus you’ve now added a bunch of business card bumf to your bag of which 90 per cent has only one final destination! Those poor trees!

Take your time to meet people 

Meeting fellow professionals from the business world, whether collaborators, suppliers or potential clients, needs to be structured and personal. You can’t build a business relationship with a name on a card or with someone you’ve seen for a few seconds in a chaotic atmosphere.

Taking the time to discover what the person and the business does, what their differentiating factors are, why they should be trusted, and if they are credible and competent, will ensure a longer-term association on an equal level. Hands down, every time.

Collecting delegate lists and business cards with an end game of emailing (I say email because that’s usually how it’s done although a phone call is marginally better) multiple recipients will almost always result in those emails being percieved as spam. It’s an impersonal mass marketing tactic.

You are the best business card

A better approach would be to consult a delegate list prior to a meeting and select two or three people or businesses that there’s a strong potential to connection with. Perhaps there are grounds for an alliance. Maybe you know someone looking for that exact product or service. Or feasibly you work with similar businesses in their sector already so you know there’s a match. Make a point of finding these people and making contact in person at the meeting and ask permission to stay in contact with them afterwards.

If you do fall into a speed networking setting be sure to catch people before the end of the event that you feel it would be worth arranging a 1-2-1 meeting with. This will be your chance to discover more about each other’s services and whether there’s room to continue discussions. Remember, speed networking can be perplexing for many so if you leave it until a few days later you may have slipped the mind of the other person. Strike while the iron is hot because fortune is always in the follow up.

You are the best business card there is, so rather than using a scattergun approach dropping business card bombs on tables everywhere or holding out for a numbers game delegate list, be personable and face-to-face. Approach people, take the time to ask questions and build a stronger foundation. You are guaranteed a better future with the relationship. 

Be IN the know and IN the now with NetworkIN. 

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