Becoming a Better Networker

Your business card is the most powerful and cost-effective networking tool you have. The secret is knowing when, where and how to use it to your advantage.

When to use your business card

The short answer to this is whenever you possibly can. If someone asks you what you do for a living, give them your business card. If they ask you for directions, write them on the back of your business card. If they ask you for a dollar to buy a cup of coffee, give it to them, along with your business card. There is no wrong moment to offer your business card (except perhaps at a funeral or on a hot date). The more cards you can get into circulation with your name and contact details on them, the better your call-back rate will be.

Where to use your business card

The most relevant place to offer your card is at a convention, trade show or expo, where your potential customers are all in one place. If you have a booth, hand out cards like there’s no tomorrow. Give them to your opposition as well (you never know, they may need a job one day). Give your business card to those making general enquiries. Give it to potential customers, new customers, existing customers and ex-customers. Use it wherever an opportunity presents itself and don’t worry about the expense, because, compared to the cost of other forms of advertising, your business card will pay for itself a hundred times over.

How to use your business card

Just as important as where and when you use it, the way you use your business card can make a big difference as well.
  • Always have it in your top pocket or the front flap of your purse (you should be able to present it in under five seconds)
  • Keep spare copies in your glove box (you should never find yourself without a business card)
  • Always re-order your business cards before you run out, not after.
  • Keep your networking partners supplied with your cards, as they can’t recommend you if they don’t have your details.
  • Put your cards on bulletin boards in shopping centres and leave a stack with non-competing businesses in your industry who are happy to promote you.
  • Provide a card holder in situations where a vendor has agreed to display your cards on their counter.
  • If your neighbourhood has a large immigrant population, have your cards printed double-sided, with English on one side and the second language on the other.
  • One way to increase the likelihood that your card will be kept by the recipient is to hand-write something on the back beforehand, such as a discount offer or your personal mobile number.
  • However, don’t use this practice if your contact details change, as hand-written alterations on a business card are just plain tacky. Get new cards printed as soon as possible if this happens.
  • Another way to increase your card’s retention rate is to make it useful. Print something handy on the back, like a calendar or a tide chart, or better still, a discount coupon.

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