Being Bruce -: Networking Event Tip #3 - Bring Business Cards (Yeah, More than a Couple)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Networking Event Tip #3 - Bring Business Cards (Yeah, More than a Couple)

Networking Event Tip #3 - Bring Business Cards (Yeah, More than a Couple)

OK, so you may think this one is so way elementary that you're outta here. Well, 'cuse me, but I beg to differ. I am often blown away by the short-sightedness of people who attend business networking events and their business cards are in their car, in their bag in the car, or in their other suit at home. Yeah, I am aghast at the silliness and futility and numbness of those folks - until I show up card-less myself. It happens folks, and it will happen to you, unless you are the reigning OCD champ in your town - so get extras, put stacks in lots of places and always remember to check.

(In the photo above, networkers Peggy O'Leary and Vincent Pearsall try Human Rabies Shots at a Leland, NC Business After Hours last fall. And guess what? The next BAH at the same location is August 18th at 5PM! - Nothing to do with business cards, but pretty interesting anyway.)

It's also a good idea to bring some index cards and a pen or two, for taking notes, but business cards are a must. Last night I was at an event and left my 3x5 card holder in the car (my bad) and reverted to taking notes on the backs of other people's business cards (and a few of mine), which is truly bad form, but I did it.

Please note, not all cultures view business cards in the same way, so be careful. For example, from what I'm told and have read, writing on a Japanese business person's business card is viewed as extremely insulting defacement.

So, keep it simple, and remember to bring your cards.

One last note - business networking events are not ONLY about grabbing as many other cards as you can. In fact, if you show up and start pushing your card on other folks and asking everyone for theirs, you can pretty much put on the Clueless hat right off. Don't be that guy or gal. Pretty much never offer your card, always let someone ask for it. And don't ask for anyone else's card unless you've engaged them in some manner - conversation is a good one. The days when it was cool, if it ever was, to count business cards like trophies and to see how many you can get at every networking event are long gone. Count it as a major win if you meet and exchange cards with two to three new folks with whom you'll follow up within a few days after the event. (But more on that topic and 'strategy' in another Tip.)

This post is one in a series on how to make the most of in-person networking events. If you're going to go (and I suggest you do if your business benefits from relationships), you might as have the most fun possible and give and receive the greatest benefits from the occasion.

There are two cool opportunities for networking today, if you've the time and inclination - which is what they said about that leaning clock tower in Pisa!

- First, put the top down, turn up the radio and head on down Route 17 to North Myrtle Beach. The North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce is celebrating its 10th anniversary (that's really 25th in people years, since Chamber of Commerce folks burn so much energy one year of their life is like 2.5 years of non-CofC folks). From what I hear, cake and coffee from 1-5PM, which may not be a big deal, but the people in NMBCC rock so it'll be a blast.

- After a suffeit of cake, head on back to Wilmington for a Downtown Sundown concert on the Riverwalk. Tonight's band: local Reggae band Steve Martinez, from 6-10PM. The crowd starts to gather shortly after 5, so if mingling is your method, get there early.

If you know of a networking event in the greater Wilmington Area [which means to me anywhere from Topsail Island, NC to North Myrtle Beach, SC] that's open to visitors, drop me a note ahead of time and I'll try to post it.