What do you do with a business card 2: the ones you collect!

This is the second post in a short series on business cards.  The first post was about the design of business cards, and the second what to do with your own business cards.

This post is going to cover what you do with the business cards you collect – and here I am assuming you are actively collecting business cards while networking to promote and market your business. It is important, once you have collected them to do something with them.

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I recommend that you keep all of the information you collect as you never know who you might meet in the future. One of the attributes of an excellent networker is that they put other businesses in touch with each other if they can see a good link – whether or not that is of benefit to their own business. If you are known as someone who works hard to support other businesses, then other businesses will remember you and promote your business too.

1. Keep the business cards

You may want the information for a number of reasons-

they do something that would be of use to you in your business

you know/ meet someone else who would benefit from the services/products they offer

they do a similar business to you and you want to meet them for a 121 to see if there are ways you can help each other out

A box full of cards is better than no cards at all, but it would be much easier for you to get at the information if you have spent some time – or got someone else to- organise the information for you.

2. Create a database of the information on the business cards

This can be as simple as a spreadsheet with the key information on it – you can even include key words to remind you about the unique selling points of the businesses you are recording. This can then be searched in the future if you meet someone who, for example, needs a plumber, then search your spreadsheet for plumbers and pass on the information. What is even better is if you have heard a testimonial about the business at a meeting make a note of that so that you know you are referring a business that has a good track record.

If you are an active networker, though, a simple spreadsheet could soon become unwieldy and difficult to manage. If that is the case then there are a number of packages you can use to manage the data.

3. Contact management packages

Help you to record and track all contacts you make. This is useful to help you track the effectiveness of your contacts if you take the time – or employ someone – to keep them up to date. The added advantage is you could possible start by uploading the information you have already collected in your spreadsheet. There are a range available, with a range of costs depending on the level of use you want to make of them in managing your contacts. I am not going to name packages here as I am no expert – but I know people who specialise in supporting businesses using these packages and can refer you if you want more information.

4.Use an  app or package that takes an image of the business card.

These apps are available for your Smart phone or tablet and make use of the camera technology for taking the images. Many will also have a scanning or uploading facility to enable you to add larger documents and will also work on lap tops or desk top computers. Talk to friends to see which ones they find the most useful. Many are available free for a basic service with limited volume, but then have a subscription service to enable you to do more of them. I also know of colleagues who use these apps to manage documents – but that is a whole other blog post.

Once you have added the data you then have the choice of keeping the business cards to pass onto to other businesses when making referrals or of disposing of them.

How do you manage your business cards? I would be interested in hearing what you do, and what I have missed from the list above.

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Making Networking Work

Image-courtesy-of-jscreationzs-at-FreeDigitalPhotos.net_Having just moved areas from Wolverhampton to Towcester I have been reminded about the importance of networking. It is especially important when growing a new business – or an old business in a new area which is what I am doing.
I have been in my new area for a couple of months now and have restarted my networking activity in earnest in the last couple of weeks. I have already seen a benefit to my business with 2 referrals and 1 new customer. This is especially good as I know that the benefit of networking comes from the long term links you make with people and so quick wins are particularly precious.
I am enjoying meeting new people who I know will develop into friends and business colleagues in the future.
My note for the future is to remember that, even if you are not feeling like going out and talking to a lot of people get back into your networking as quickly as you can. Even if you only talk to one person you are starting the process of getting to know people in your new area. It has worked for me and I am already being greeted by people and welcomed into my new networking groups.

Silicon Bullet Forever

I am a keen networker, and have been for three years. It serves more than one purpose for me. Apart from the obvious advantage of finding new business leads, I have met and got to know other excellent local business people, I have made good  friends, and it gets me out of the office and gives me the social element that running your own business often lacks. In fact, most of our new customers over the last three years can be traced directly back to someone I originally got to know through a networking meeting.

Once you have met someone through networking, the best way to get to know them better is to have a follow-up meeting or a one-to-one, where you find out about each other’s business. I tend to meet people in a local coffee shop or for lunch. It is quite often a revelation how much you…

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