Networking starts the moment you have a message. An idea, a dream, something that you want to share with others. Networking progresses when you realize there are others that have a message that aligns with yours toward a clearer today and a better future.
And it all starts with the Business Card The business card began long before you, your parents or grandparents were born. And no matter how many birthdays anyone in your family has achieved, I can confidently state this because business cards were conceived in the 17th century (among the aristocracy) and by the 19th century anyone and everyone considered them a staple. Many houses even had card trays in which you’d leave yours. Now, in the 21st century, we have wallets, hands and pockets for that very reason. The business card is our second chance at a first impression. As a leave behind, they’re a legitimizer containing your contact information: who you are, what you do and where.
When it comes to business cards, however, ensuring you have that second chance at a first impression, that your connection won’t use your business card as waste can basketball practice or kindling for a cool April evening, you have to take into consideration several things:
Brand them. If you want them to be memorable, make it unforgettable. Not something you can buy offline or some copy+paste clip art. If you have a personal and professional brand, it needs to be evident everywhere.
Trade them. Don’t be shy about asking for their card. And while theirs may be forgettable, your purpose in building that relationship isn’t.
Utilize them. Callback. We’ve said it before, but you’re courting them, so if they gave you their number, they gave you permission – whether they know it or not – to call them back. And just like the delicate game between first love “will (s)he, or won’t (s)he” call be back, just pick up the phone and put everyone of their misery. And three days later try again. Technology has given us multiple resources for making a connection. Don’t sell yourself or sell them something. Plant a seed for a relationship.
Stock them. Keep them on hand, in pocket, wallet, glove compartment, wherever you need so you can always practice safe second-chance, first impression networking. If all else fails, keep a pen on hand and napkin your number.
Here’s to connecting!
-The Green Couch