Believe it or not, in this age of high technology, smart phones, LinkedIn, Facebook, and hundreds of other apps, the business card is still alive and well. It is still a universally accepted tool that allows for quick information sharing with little to no pressure. I will admit that I typically only use the business card to get the contact information into my database or connect with the individual on LinkedIn but without it this task would be a lot harder. The business card is succinct, it is simple, and it allows for a quick exchange of information.
I have read dozens of articles from influencers in various industries explaining how they no longer use business cards because they rely on the new connection to have one. They will ask for a card and then email all relevant contact information to the person they met. I have been guilty of this myself when I forget to bring cards to an event. I do not like this approach because there have been countless instances when the person I met did not have a card. I went ahead and gave them my card and asked for an email with their contact information. The email never came. A few weeks would go by and I would see them again and ask about getting their email. Time and time again I experience the same reaction. A sheepish smile followed by an apology for forgetting. “I’ve been so busy, I must have forgotten.”
The fact is we're all busy. Why leave it up to chance that the new connection will send that email they promised? Why not have a card to ensure that follow up calls or meetings can happen without a lot of added pressure or waiting for an email that may or may not come? The business card is an inexpensive extension of your personal branding and marketing. It is also one of the easiest tools to encourage follow up appointments and ensure that the time spent networking is valuable.
I still give out business cards without receiving them all of the time. They may end up in the trash but they also may result in a great appointment. One example – I happened to enter a CPAs office one hot afternoon during a busy day of cold calling. It was the middle of summer and the CPA was working on tax returns for customers he had filed extensions for earlier in the year. I apologized for bothering him while he was busy. He smiled and said he appreciated the break. We talked briefly on how his business was doing and I gave him a brief overview of the company I was working for. Five minutes went by and he explained that he had better get back to work. I thanked him for his time, gave him my card and left the building.
Two weeks later my phone rang. It was the same CPA, whom I had met for five minutes, passing on one of his clients for my services. Since that time he has sent me over ten referrals, resulting in business totalling more than $30,000 for my business. He had no other way to contact me besides my card and I never received his contact information before we worked on the first client together. Imagine the outcome had I not been carrying cards that day.
In the end, it all comes down to making sure you have collected some type of way to follow up and meet with the new connection after the event has concluded. A business card is typically the easiest way to achieve this goal and can be received simply by asking for it. As times change and we continue to rely more and more on digital communication, be willing to adapt and offer to connect however is easiest for your new connection. Get the other person’s number and be sure to use it.