Have you ever met someone and before you've even started chatting with them they are shoving their business card down your throat? Everybody has met this person and they obviously have not been taught any business card etiquette. It seems simple, right? After all its just a business card, but if this is your first impression and you don't nail it, then you may misrepresent who you are and how you carry yourself.
In my opinion, a business card should be something you ask for, after you've had the chance to get to know the person a little bit and have determined that they are someone that you would like to add to your network and keep in touch with. I never give my business card to someone unless they ask for it, and they usually ask for mine after I have asked for theirs. Keep in mind how you ask for it as well, make sure you are polite, respectful and that you ask for it in a nice way. I can't tell you how many times I have heard “so…you got a business card?” Ugh NO!!
When you are handed a business card, take a moment to receive it nicely and review the information. This is your chance to program their name into your memory along with the company they work for and what they do.
Don't be sloppy. When you are giving your card to someone, make sure you present it to them like it is a piece of gold and with both hands as if you are presenting them with a gift.
Make sure you keep your cards in a nice carrying case and when you receive a card from someone, be sure to put it in a nice case as well. Don't just shove it in your pocket or purse. Treat it with respect like a gift that someone has just given you.
The Art of the Follow Up
A business card is useless if it just sits in a pile and you don't do anything with it. Anytime you have met someone new and have received their card, I suggest following up with them within a few days by phone or email. Just a quick note to say it was a pleasure meeting them, remind them of who you are, and ask if you can stay in touch via a social media platform such as LinkedIn or Facebook. You may even want to book a coffee with them if they are someone you'd like to get to know better. If you have a newsletter it would be a good time to ask permission to add them to your list. The best way to handle this is to first suggest to them that if they have a newsletter that you would like to be added to their list. Reminder networking is a two-way street.
If you are adding a new contact to Facebook or LinkedIn, I suggest always including an introductory note to remind them of who you are and where you met. I get so peeved when I get a request from someone to add them to my network and I have no idea who they are or how they even know me. I usually just assume that we haven't met and they don't in fact know me and then I am really not impressed.
Building relationships is the key to networking and these are the first two steps to get you started out on the right foot with someone new. It's important to take care, consideration, and respect when meeting someone new and when following up with them. Don't be sloppy!