Networking

How to Turn Business Cards Into Business Relationships

How to Turn Business Cards Into Business Relationships
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Business cards that symbolize fabulous connections and conversations can easily transform into annoying reminders of lost opportunities. So how can you turn business cards into cash?

First, the most common mistake is failing to collect cards. Many people give out their cards but fail to collect from others. Politely insist on getting the potential contact's information so that you can follow up with him or her. If he or she doesn’t have a business card (which is a rising trend), write down an email address so you can follow up afterward. You want the ball in your court so you have the capability to follow up. Don’t place the responsibility on the other person.

The second common mistake is failing to follow up at all. Intending to follow up won’t put money in your bank account.

Related: 7 Ways to Increase Your Charisma

To ease your follow-up efforts, have a system in place for the business cards. Personally, I don’t like paper. I prefer to turn someone’s contact information into a digital format as quickly as possible. There are many apps that take pictures of business cards, translate the text and add the information to your contact system. Snap a pic, recycle the card, and follow up. Quick and simple. I use Evernote for this.

Apps will also geotag the information so you can remember where you met. A simple option is to take a photo of the cards and email it to yourself or your virtual assistant. A low-tech option is to carry the cards until you get back to your office. If that’s your choice, be sure to have a specific place you put the cards. I’ve lost many valuable contacts to the abyss known as my purse.

Next, keep your connection engaged. The phrasing of your first follow up is as important as your first impression. Make sure you stand out and won't be forgotten. 

Avoid phrases such as, “I’m not sure if you remember me but we met at …” Starting that way puts you in a position of weakness. 

Also, cut the word “just” from your follow up. Like, “I just wanted to say hi.” 

“Justs” make your email (and you) inconsequential and ignorable. 

To step up your follow up, be personal and interesting by mentioning something that you discussed at your initial meeting. Shared experiences, inside jokes or answers you found to their questions are great. Something conversational such as, “I love meeting a fellow Star Wars nerd!” keeps your email from seeming boilerplate.

Your top objective in following up is to get a response. I have one follow-up tip that, for me, has had a 100 percent response rate. It’s a bit outside the box and takes a little more work, but it’s worth it. Even the busiest people with celebrity-esque statuses have replied to this follow-up technique.

I create a personal video message for my new contact. It’s only a minute or two saying how it was great to meet them, mentioning something we shared in our conversation and offering next action steps. It’s short, sweet and effective. My contacts regularly say how cool the video messages are. They appreciate me taking the time to create them and talk to them “face to face.” 

Related: Stop Taking Part in the Most Absurd Business Ritual

With video follow ups, you don’t have to remind people who you are. They see you, hear your voice and instantly remember you. Plus, you are creating a more human connection because your nonverbal communication shares more than text can. As a bonus, you can tell if and when your contact has watched your video. Video uploading services, including YouTube, have a number of views counter. I’ve had contacts watch my video messages a few times because they enjoyed them and shared them.

Your video messages don’t need to be highly produced. Just have good lighting and quality sound. I use a single lighting kit or natural sunlight for light. For sound, I use a Snowball microphone or simply my iPhone ear buds mic. 

There are many video upload options. I use YouTube, set the privacy settings to hidden and share the video link in my follow-up email. Don’t upload the video directly into your email. The attachment will be too big and get captured by spam filters.

Lastly, expedite the scheduling process for your next meeting with your contact. One of the biggest time sucks in modern life is sending emails back and forth to schedule something. To bypass that annoyance, I recommend having an online calendar tool. I use Calendly.com. Your contact clicks a link and books a time. The system takes care of the rest.

My personal follow-up system includes a link for a video call with Zoom.us, and other services such as Skype work well. If you’re interested in keeping a stronger, more personal connection, then video calls are your best option. Your connection is enhanced when you see and hear the other person. Don’t discount this wonderful modern communication option that is readily at your finger tips. 

Follow up is about personal connection. With these tips, you'll be turning business cards into thriving business relationships. 

Related: 8 Tips to Be an Awesome Networker at Conferences