How to use the Business Cards you collect at Networking events

Pile of Business Cards

Pile of Business CardsOur Office Manager has recently started visiting a number of local business networking events, meeting and greeting fellow local businesses, chatting about work, life and the universe, and (hopefully) putting down the building blocks for a business relationship that will be of mutual benefit for both parties for a good time to come.

But once the networking event is over – what then? After returning to the office with a fistful of business cards – the easy thing to do would be to start building a nice pile of cards in the corner of her desk as a very efficient dust-catcher.

But really, what should we do with all those business cards that have been collected?

Here’s the system we use to try to maximise the benefit out of all those business cards we collect:-

  1. Within 48 hours of attending the networking event, schedule 30 minutes to follow up on the business cards you’ve collected.
  2. Input the business cards as a new Contact into Microsoft Outlook so they can easily be referenced for the future and shared with others.
  3. Send a follow-up e-mail to the person – I often reference a specific conversation (not always business related!) that I’ve had with that person at the networking event. If you’ve got a terrible memory, like me, then carry a pen with you to the event and make notes on Business Cards received after each conversation.
  4. Connect with that person on Social Networking sites such as LinkedIn.
  5. With their permission, add that person to the companies e-mail newsletter list – we use a service called ConvertKit to manage these details.
  6. Be “The Connector” – if you know of somebody who would benefit from being introduced to the person you’ve met – make that introduction!
  7. Finally – if there is a genuine potential need for the new contact for your businesses service (and I should stress that going into a networking event looking to SELL is a very bad idea! However, sometimes you meet someone at just the right time when they need your services and it’s worth discussing further) then add the details as an “opportunity” in the CRM system and follow-up by telephone.

Do you do things differently to the above? If so, how do you approach things? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts – leave a comment or e-mail me.

However you do things, make sure you have some sort of system in place for collecting business cards – otherwise, all that time you spend at those networking events will be nothing more than time spent having a chat with a fellow local business, and a pile of cards gathering dust on your desk!

Comments

  • Richard Tubb2019-04-10 13:42:55

    Robert -- thanks for the positive feedback and I make a point of leaving no comment left behind! :-)

  • Robert Addington2019-04-09 10:47:08

    What a nice thing to read in this blog and what level of clarity comes from the writer! I hope the writer will be kind enough to respond to the thoughts of the readers in the future as well. I express my sincere thanks.

  • How to Attend Conferences as a Businessperson2015-08-31 01:01:50

    […] at the conference you should have been taking notes on all of the business people you met, and collecting their contact information. Hopefully you have set up some future calls and meetings with at least of few of them. Send notes […]

  • Richard Tubb2013-01-31 10:21:59

    Michael - fantastic! Thanks for leaving great feedback. I'd agree, most people's LinkedIn profiles are woefully out of date, so I do something similar to you - I create a contact in Outlook, populate it with their full details (gleaned from business card, web-site and LinkedIn) and also make a note in the "Notes" field of where we met.

  • Michael de Groot2013-01-31 10:12:42

    Hi Richard, I agree completely. OK here's my process nowadays, which I have refined in the past few months. When I meet someone new and they hand over their business card, I always ask if they are on LinkedIn and if not I ask why not? Invariably I invite them to connect on LinkedIn, I still find that most people don't actually bother to invite you and haven't taken the time to do so. I think it is because they feel that if you are not a prospect why bother. Oh how wrong they all are! I know they deny that but actually you can see it in their eyes, when they realise you are not really a person they wish to speak to. Once connected on LinkedIn, and yes indeed they do take their time to accept you, I check off details between business card and LinkedIn profile. I have to do this because believe it or not most of them have DIFFERENT details on their card compared to their profile!!! By the way I keep the cards in a neat pile (elastic band and piece of paper) for those I have invited and for those that aren't on LinkedIn, well to be brutal those not on LinkedIn may go into my contacts database, but mostly they go into the bin. Sorry but they just don't take business seriously. LinkedIn has been around long enough now and with 11 million people on it in the UK, they should get get serious! OK biz cards checked, LinkedIn detail updated. Then because I have a LinkedIn app on my iPhone, I import all new contacts to my address book on my phone, which automatically synch to my contacts database, in my case a mac, but it I do believe it will work with outlook? The advantage of foing it this way, the linkedin profile link moves with it and a picture as well. Handy for when you forget what people look like! I will still need to double check that a mobile phone number is on the contact record, you wouldn't believe how many, well 95% do not have a mobile phone number on their LinkedIn profile! Next and here's my latest bit of the process. I import people into my CRM, in this case Nimble, not it won't pull over the email address, LinkedIn API rules, which is a shame, but just go to the record and add the email, look it up on LinkedIn. Then I send my new connections an invite to have a one to one video call via skype or google hangout (my preference) and make a note in my tasks inside my CRM that I have done this. I am finding that people are responding very favourable to the video calls, no expense and time of travelling, cost of coffees etc and most importantly no distractions either. Very efficient use of time. This way you get to know people far more intimately. OK I agree face to face rules but what if you can't really do anything for each other? Last bit of the process is, adding those new connections to mailchimp, exported directly out of Nimble. I have finally found a process that works and is delivering results. The only thing I am not doing is sending spammy emails via mailchimp. And although I had started sending emails to share some tips, I will do that again but in a totally new and innovative format. Watch this space! I'm now off to Phoenix Club, my first networking event of the year. And I am reducing networking events drastically this year, 3 per month at the most and only because its a social networking event. Success with everything! Cheers Michael @stayingaliveuk ps. I am working on a new business card, double sided, one side has your logo and brand details and the other is your LinkedIn header with photo! Its looking great!

  • Richard Tubb2012-08-22 07:15:13

    Thanks Mutini - I'll check CardFila out, although it doesn't inspire confidence when they can't spell the word "Business" correctly on their homepage I'm afraid!

  • Mutini Nguyen2012-08-22 06:30:11

    Cardfila.com will be good answer for you in this case. Why you not login and try it now?????

  • Social Networking vs Traditional Networking « TubbBlog2011-04-27 08:28:00

    [...] me, this is where Social Networking comes in. I have written before about the process I use for collecting Business Cards, and it heavily involves linking up with people I’ve met in the “real world” via Social [...]

  • Richard2009-11-12 10:46:08

    If you were asking for permission - then please SWIPE away and re-use on your own blog. :-)

  • Chris2009-11-09 21:17:10

    Rich, As always mate, I really like your posts. This is something very similar to what I do, We gather all business cards and they go into the our CRM (ConnectWise) annd get followed up not quite 48 hours, but usually within a week . I will blog about this and refer back to yout blog as wel

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