I Don’t Want Your Business Card
Guess what, we are living in a “what can you do for me society;” I actually hate it but I wont pretend that this norm isn’t occurring, at least to a certain extent.
I vividly remember attending a networking event in Dallas, numerous highly qualified and affluent peers were in attendance and since I’m fairly new to the city I had my networking hat on and was fully engaged. What took me by surprise was how many people shoved their business card in my hand before I even knew what their name, or business, even was.
Want to know what I did with those business cards? Well, a third are probably still in my suit jacket, another third went into a plastic baggy that I keep in my backpack, and the last third were instantly saved to my phone.
There’s a method to my madness when it comes to business cards, but in all actuality — I really don’t want your business card. In fact, I want to develop a relationship (yea I move kind of quick, huh?) and not just exchange a piece of information that everyone has the opportunity to get.
Here’s why I don’t want your business card.
1. We have to define the relationship first.
To bring value to your brand or business we have to move past transactional relationships. This means moving beyond the notion of, “Here is my business card, now I expect something in return from you.” This may be a phone call, an email, or some kind of service. Essentially it is “I give you something, you give me something” relationship.
Transactional relationships are focused on one thing, whereas meaningful relationships are focused on more long-term, substantial value — value that evolves with time.
Before you give me your business card, I need to understand what type of relationship I am committing to. If it’s transactional and I consent, then eventually it’s going in my plastic follow-up-baggy; if it’s transactional and forced, it’s going in my suit pocket (read: trash). But, if the relationship is meaningful, I’m probably already putting your contact information in my phone.
2. I want to focus on the content of the book, before I judge the cover.
The old adage, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” is nice in theory, but we all do it whether consciously or subconsciously. If you hand out your business card before you 1) share what it is that you do and 2) share why you’re passionate about doing it; you just might be setting yourself up for failure.
Why? Because people judge books by their cover all the time. If you hand me a basic card before explaining your extraordinary business, I’m heading into the conversation thinking you and your business are basic, sorry.
The key to building meaningful relationships when it comes to networking is to make the individual you are networking with feel as if they need your card. The key to this is:
- Sell your “self” and make them feel as if they already have a relationship with you.
- Sell your “business” and make them feel as if they need your product or service.
- Sell your value and make them understand how you will make them or their business more profitable or efficient.
- Seal the deal with your card.
3. Your card gets lost in the sauce.
In the spirit of being open and honest, I’ll tell you the core reasons why I don’t want your business cards. Your wasting paper for cards that aren’t memorable, that don’t look creative, and that don’t add value.
- Your stock photo of a head shot on your card looks like a mugshot, and it’s scary. Get creative and showcase your personality.
- There’s nothing memorable, funny, or catchy about what you have on your card. Be witty, be funny, have a tagline — I should know the personality of your business simply by looking at your card.
- Your cards look like everyone else’s. Nothing against VistaPrint, but you better customize. Hire a designer, it’s worth it.
- Your business card is.. not.. valuable. Consider adding a bottle opener, utility level, stencils, stickers, or something else unique to your card.
- You’re late to the technology party. If you have a QR code on your business card you aren’t hip to the new trends, if you don’t have your social media handles, you need a marketing coach.
There are about 10 billion business cards printed a day and 88% of business cards are thrown in the trash less than a week after an exchange. Be on the winning end of this statistic.