Don’t be the “Card Passer”

Live in person events are great for networking and building relationships. However, there are a few faux pas that people who are inexperienced or honestly, just plain ignorant do, that are counter productive and more damaging than if they had never gone in the first place.

One of these faux pas is that of the “Card Passer”. There is always at least one in any major networking event.

They usually make you roll your eyes.

They’re the ones that have a stack of business cards and they walk around the room and butt into conversations and pass out their cards, then they give you their elevator pitch and move on. They know nothing about you, your business, or how you do it. They may have gotten your card in return. Some of these eager new puppies (my term for the ones that are still wet behind the ears), might even offer to send you their digital card via text so you can exchange and give them their phone numbers right off the bat. I adore those. They’re the ones that everyone “knows” and that everyone tries to avoid in the future.

In their minds they’ve me their objective. They now have a stack of cards they collected that they will then use to SPAM the crap out of your inbox and start making phone calls that you will probably just let go to your voicemail.

Networking events are to grow your network. Not to play someone’s version of dealing a deck. Here’s some of my top suggestions for going to live networking events.

  • Walk in having done your research. Have a list of your top 5 people that you want to meet.
    • People you’ve never met before
    • People who you want to either mentor you, be able to introduce you to the people you do want to meet, do business with, or can do something to help you grow your business
    • If you’re going to an organized event, with a chamber or some other type of organization, the even organizers often have a list of who will be attending and will often be willing to share the list with you before the event if you explain that you want to make the most of the event. Some won’t want to send it to you because they don’t want to just hand out contact information. Explain that is fine but if you could just get names and the companies that would be great. You can take the rest from there.
    • If you know other people going to the same event, ask if they know any of your top 5 and could facilitate an introduction for you.
  • Ask them questions about them and then SHUT UP! Listen. Learn about them.
    • How did they get into their business/position?
    • What do they like about it?
    • What do they see as the most important things happening in their industry over the next year?
    • What can you help them with?
      • Is there a particular type of person they’re looking to meet with? Maybe you can introduce them.
      • What type of referral are they looking for?
  • Sit with and meet with people you haven’t met with before or don’t know well.
  • Put a pile of your business cards in your dominant side (if you’re right handed…right side) pocket with 2 pens. Keep your other pocket empty.
    • Keep it in your hand and remind yourself of the person’s name if needed.
    • Use their name as much as possible to help remember it.
    • When you receive a card, use one of your pens to take notes on it. (Some people don’t like it when you take notes on their cards, explain that you’re taking notes to follow up the best way with them and to remind yourself of ways that you might be able to assist them in sending them referrals in the future. That will usually do the trick).
    • Write on the card R, P, S, or N on it. R for someone who would make a great referral partner for yourself. P for a prospective client, someone you could see doing business with. S for someone you could use as a supplier. N for a “No-go”, you just don’t see any professional compatibility. It will help you organize the stack when you get back to your desk.
    • If there’s something you need to follow up on then write it on the card
    • Use a card scanning app to enter the names into your CRM and contacts
    • Follow up as quickly as possible with whatever action steps you need to take. A “great to meet you” to a “let’s continue the conversation”. You could even go to the parking lot and take your phone out and send a quick video message. (Why video? If it’s a big meeting than your face and message will remind them who you are and what your conversation was about. Keep the message below one minute, they are less likely to listen to anything longer. Short and sweet.)
    • The quicker you follow up the higher chance you have of actually working with that person.

These are just some top tips. If you’re looking for more, please feel free to check out my business coaching services. I would love to hear some of your top tips. Feel free to share in the comments below!

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