Did you hear the recent story about Chinese multimillionaire Chen Guangbiao's outrageous business card? His card made big news across the web recently (so did he) because of the outlandish job titles he had featured on it. Three of my favorites are, "Most Influential Person Of China", "Most Prominent Philanthropist of China” and “Most Charismatic Philanthropist of China". In my book, New Business Networking, I reserve a chapter dedicated to the importance of business cards. A smart networker never leaves home without cards. Don't believe anyone who tells you they are going away or a thing of the past. Business cards are here to stay - at least for the foreseeable future.
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It is not only paramount to carry your business cards, it is also important to be smart in how you use them. There is nothing worse than the guy at the networking event who rapidly hands out business cards. Are you guilty of trying to hand out and collect as many cards as possible? Think again, it's quality over quantity. I would rather walk away from an event with some genuine new relationships than pockets full of cards.
I recommend using apps like CardMunch and Evernote Hello to scan and upload card information to your LinkedIn account after you receive them. Be sure to take notes about the people you meet on the cards if possible. My business card is designed to encourage you to fill in the blanks. The rear of the card has fields to write where you met me, what we talked about, and how you should follow up.
Business Card Design is Important
The design of your card is important. I use a photo on mine, so you can remember me after we met. A company called Tribe Gaga impressed me recently by sending some personalized chewing gum business cards called, GAGAsticks. Each package of what appears to be a stick of chewing gum includes two wrapped items. One is a traditional stick of gum, which is great to refresh the breathe of any busy networker. The second is a magnetic business card. Mine includes my photo, contact info, and my book information on the other side. I think it's a brilliant way to be memorable.
I asked friends on Facebook for their favorite examples of unique business cards and many recommended author, Jay Baer's bottle opener card. It's a brilliant idea, because it's a card most people won't want to part with. I have included some photos of these cards here.
Be Mindful With Your Business Cards
No matter the type of business card you choose, it's crucial to be mindful with it. Always ask for someone else's card before offering your own. This doesn't mean you should ask for everyone's card you meet. Strike up a conversation or join others. If it's appropriate, ask for their card. There is no harm in asking if the moment is right or if you are wrapping up your conversation.
Lastly, be sure to follow up. Find a way that you can help them, like introducing them to someone in your network. Invite them to join you on LinkedIn by using an original connection request message that reminds them who you are and where you met. Refer back to the notes you made on the cards when following up. Who knows, you may have just met the most charismatic philanthropist of China.
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This article, "Be smart in using your business card", originally appeared in The Tennessean newspaper.