We’ve all experienced the stack of unsorted business cards looming on the corner of the desk. We say, “I’ll get to them tomorrow,” which turns into next week, which turns into next month – and then we just give up. We all know what happens next. Along comes another event and the pile continues to grow…
What are you leaving on the table when you ignore that stack? Quite simply: money, in the form of business cards. If your pile grown so large that you’ve said, “It’s not worth it now, I’ll do better next time,” then today is the day to change your stack of business cards into opportunities that mean more money in your pocket.
I would bet that when you go to a networking event, including a conference or meeting, as an entrepreneur you make sure your look projects confidence and poise. Because you know the adage “you get only one chance to make a first impression,” you pay attention to your outfit, the colors on your color wheel, your makeup, hair, nails, shoes and bag. You practice your elevator pitch and walk in well-equipped with business cards.
The important factor to remember is that the sale and opportunity also begin at the first encounter. This includes getting business cards from potential clients and ensuring the cards are a tool for the sale. I remember hearing motivational speaker and financial guru Suze Orman talking about the need to respect money. She mentioned that we can’t just throw money in our bags; we have to respect it. We should know how much we have and we should keep it neat. The same principle should apply to business cards from potential clients. Respect them; keep them neat; don’t just toss them in your bag.
Business cards are keys to potential opportunities. Here’s how to keep that stack from growing to overwhelming proportions and start gaining value from it.
The important factor to remember is that the sale and opportunity also begin at the first encounter.
Steps to take when you get a business card
Write on it!
As an entrepreneur, you probably often use your phone or tablet to take notes, jot ideas, check and respond to emails and mark your electronic calendar. But when you get a business card, your first step should be to take out an old-fashioned pen and write a note on the back of the card. It’s even okay to let the person see you writing the note. The act of writing the note says: “You’re important and I don’t want to forget the critical details of your story.”
Remember, the opportunity or sale begins at the first encounter. You need to set the stage for follow-up. The person you’ve just met is a lead and is important in your pipeline. The business card is the tool to get the pipeline moving. I often say to a new contact, “Excuse me, let me get a pen. I want to write this down so when I follow up with you on Monday, I won’t forget.” Some notes on the back of the card may include:
This prepares you for the follow-up.
Convert the business card information into data for an electronic list
The purpose of collecting cards and making notes is to gather information you can act on. You have to convert this paper-based intelligence into an electronic form you can use to follow up and track success. Whether you have a current stack of business cards or are preparing for your next event, there are several ways to do this.
Work your list of leads
Now that you have a list, you can work it in many ways.
Shade your spreadsheet
Create a template for your emails, then customize
Integrate with other programs
No matter what business you are in, never leave money – or a stack of business cards – on the table. Respect them, nurture them and watch them turn into profitable business opportunities.
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