Attended any networking events or luncheons lately? I attended a luncheon not too long ago that was new to me. When you walked in the door it was almost like a 5 minute dating game to see how many people you could talk to about their business. Another meeting I attended had a contest to see who could collect the most business cards in the room. And another event had us exchange cards with every person at the table (table of 8) and also played a game where you found people in various professions in the room.
What do you do with all these business cards? When I first started attending these type functions my intentions were good. When I first got home I tried to enter all the information in different categories in Outlook and then contact them via email. I did this a couple of times but then I procrastinated and the stack got put on my desk and by the time I got around to entering the information in my contact file I had to be creative in the way I contacted them so they would remember who I was.
Now I do things a little differently than I did in the beginning. Here are a few suggestions on ways I have improved and utilize business cards:
- Within one day review the cards received. If a connection was made with someone, contact them immediately (email, phone call, snail mail, text message, whatever). Just do it.
- For those cards received and no real connection was made, utilize them for direct mail purposes. Write a letter, send a postcard or a note; whatever you do personalize it with a message stating you enjoyed meeting them.
- Save the cards for future reference. After entering the information in my Contacts file, I save all cards received in a plastic container. Several times when working with clients I have searched through this container looking for a card of someone I had met. Eventually you will have to cull out the old but until it fills up no need.
I hope some of these tips I wrote help you to better organize your contacts and also get more benefit out of cards that were given in passing and no real connection was made. Utilize them to your benefit. You never know what may come of your follow up techniques.