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Using Business Cards at BlogWorld: Some Things to Think About

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You’re ready. We’re all ready. BlogWorld New York is less than a month away and Twitter and Facebook are a-buzz with conversation. In monitoring these conversations I’d say our attendees’ top item to bring to BlogWorld is business cards. I’m not going to disagree with their importance, but lets talk about their effectiveness and some best practices for using them. You see, the first few times I attended conferences, I also thought business cards to be the most important item to bring along, but over time my views about business cards and how I use them have changed.

Let me explain.

Say Hello First

Something I’m seeing more and more are people handing out business cards before they even shake hands or say hello. How do you know this person will use your business card? How do you know you even like or trust this person enough to hand out your personal details? How do you know the other person won’t just throw your business card away?

Scenario #1:

You need a place to sit down and work. You head over to the Blogger Lounge and spy a table with a few empty seats. You sit down, say “hello” and toss your business card to everyone sitting at the table. They all say “thank you” and feel obligated to pull out their own cards to pass around to everyone at the table. So far, you don’t know anyone’s name, what they do for a living, what kind of content they create and if they have any interest in you as a person. You just wasted half a dozen business cards on a bunch of people who, in all likelihood will toss them in their hotel room trash bins. Also? You’re going to get home and realize you have no clue who these people are.

Now let’s try another scenario:

You need a place to sit down and work. You head over to the Blogger Lounge and spy a table with a few empty seats. You sit down and say, “Hi, I’m Deb,” (If your name isn’t Deb, do insert the proper name instead) and shake hands with those on either side of you.  Wait for them to introduce themselves in return. Watch it go around the table. Ask questions:

  • “What kind of content do you create?”
  • “What brings you to BlogWorld?”
  • “Apple or PC?”
  • “What kind of work do you do?”
  • “Is this the best conference in the world or what?” (Say that one often. Make it a mantra).
Chit chat now ensues. You’re all learning about each other. One thing you find out is that you have nothing in common with the bricklayer on the other side of the table. He’s really there because his brother is speaking and has no interest in content creation or social media. He’s a nice guy and you may follow him on Twitter, but that’s where it ends.  Ditto a couple of the other people there, there’s no match. No spark. However, there’s also a blogger who interests you and you hit it off right away. There’s potential for collaboration. There’s also a P.R. person there who represents a brand you’re very interested in doing business with.  Now it’s time to hand out business cards, but only to the people for whom it’s a good fit.
Now, I’m the first person to tell you every single person you meet is a potential client or collaborator. But I’m also the first person to tell you that business cards cost money and you need to be choosy about who you hand them off to. At least half the people you hand your card to will never use it. And this isn’t a slight against you, or anything personal in any way. Mostly it’s because half the people won’t remember who you are. It’s not the business card that makes the impression, it’s the person. So if you want someone to call you, have a conversation and make a good first impression. Then there will be no question of who you are and why the other party has your business card.

Stacks of business cards

I hate to throw away other people’s business cards because I keep thinking I’ll use them again. The truth is, I have business cards dating back years, to the very first conferences I attended. Many of the bloggers don’t blog anymore. Many of the people don’t work for those companies anymore. Yet, I still have their business cards. If you’re like me, you have stacks of business cards you have no idea what to do with. And because I don’t know which cards are obsolete, sorting through them means most get thrown away because I have no idea who these people are and what they’re doing now. This isn’t to say I didn’t make good connections and that all cards are tossed into the bin. I simply used the cards of the people who made the biggest impression and the rest were put into “The Box.”

Don’t be a person who gets a card tossed into The Box.

Business Card Tips and Etiquette

Since we’ve come this far, let’s take it a bit further and talk about a few best practices for using business cards confidently and effectively. Because, yes, they are necessary. They’re just not necessary to give to everyone.

  • Custom Design – If you’re going to take the time out to order business cards (because you don’t work for a company that provides these for you), spend a little extra money for a custom design. A nicely designed card is a conversation piece and helps you to stand out above others. It also says you’re serious about growing your business. Check out the lovely card Randa Clay designed for me before I began working for BlogWorld – these cards never fail to start a conversation.
  • Watch fonts, colors and sizes – When you design your card, it’s awesome to have an eye catching design. It’s not so awesome to have a barely readable card because you thought you’d get creative with fonts or colors. If people have to squint to read your card, you’re doing it wrong.
  • List all the ways a person can reach you: In addition to email and mobile, don’t forget to list Twitter, and if you’re very public, Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn. Many people would rather connect socially first.
  • Write on the back of your cards  – When someone gives you a business card, take notes. Turn the card over and write down where you met that person and why you’d like to contact her again. This way when you return home there’s no confusion and the card doesn’t go into The Box or The Bin.
  • Ask – “May I give you my card?” Goes a long way. I realize many of us fear rejection, but if the other party doesn’t want your business card you know he or she really wasn’t interested in doing business with you in the first place. It may sting, but it saves your card from going to waste
  • Don’t throw business cards on a stack on random tables or counters – The only person who will pick them up is the cleaning person as he or she swoops them into the trashcan.

Your Turn

Am I off base with this? What are your thoughts about sharing and receiving business cards? Do you have any best practices and tips you can share with the BlogWorld community?

Tell us what you think.

 

Like this topic? Want to learn more?  You may be interested in the following sessions at BlogWorld NY. June 5 – 7, 2012

  1. 12 Imperative Must Do’s for the Serious Blogger
  2. How to Humanize Your Business
  3. Social Media Lessons for Bloggers

Register for BlogWorld New York


Feedback

9
  • The Napkin Dad

    My best tip, which seemed to get a lot of kudos in LA was to make a Presentation Card that had my name, title of my presentation, room # and time on it, as well as some of my other info.

    • debng

       @The Napkin Dad That’s a great That’s a great idea, Marty. Do you also have regular business cards for when your session is over?

      • The Napkin Dad

        Yes, I do have regular cards, but it really is still ok to give out the presentation cards after your presentation. It let’s them know what you did and that THEY MISSED IT! haha

  • karinhoegh

    Great post, Deb. I have been guilty of a few points. I do think we should all have  a Poken, though. http://poken.com 

    • debng

       @karinhoegh Poken is something new to me. Thanks for sharing, Karin. I’m going to check it out.

  • JTDabbagian

    I gave out a lot of business cards at BWELA, but I ALWAYS made sure to have a conversation with the person BEFORE I gave them my card. That way, I don’t come off as some pushy used blog salesman or something. 

  • johnmilste

     
    Good writing. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed my Google News Reader..
     
    http://www.sense2.com.au/

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