By Jennifer E. Goldman, President
It just hit me the other day: I hate business cards. I don’t mind the expense of them or making sure I have enough with me when I am networking. What I detest is receiving them; not the act of someone handing them to me, but the fact that I stash them away, or worse carry them in my work bag and never look at them again.
They are clutter, and I’m one of those people who can’t think straight when there is clutter around me. Just as I realized my strong dislike of having these cards cluttering my desk drawers, my purse pockets or the bottom of my work bag, I realized I don’t have to keep them! They are little shards of other people’s businesses and they have become a negative in my mind, keeping me from the ultimate purpose of why I received those cards in the first place: to build a stronger network of professionals.
I couldn’t bear to just toss them. People paid good money to have them made. They went out of their way (at least a tiny bit) to introduce themselves to me and tell me about their work and why it’s important to them.
If I was really going to take my networking to the next level, those cards were a reminder that continual interaction and connection was the key. I quickly gathered all the business cards I had collected, from every corner of my office, and sat with clear intentions in front of my laptop, LinkedIn on screen.
I diligently went through the entire stack of cards, searched for the person who gave it to me on LinkedIn, requested they connect with me there and sent each one a personal note mentioning where I had met them (or being honest and asking where we’d met, apologizing for taking so long to connect) and expressing well wishes for their business.
What I realized is that we are all fairly easy to find in this age of technology and information. If I really need to contact any of the professionals I’ve met, I don’t need their business card. What I need is to feel more connected to them than a 2”x3” piece of paper will offer.
Within a few days my LinkedIn network grew by more than 30 connections. But more importantly, I became a better, more connected business owner to the professionals in my area. It did wonders for my previously fractured mind.
….and then I threw all the shards away.