Business Cards, Obsolete?
At the beginning of the year (2016) I went through the business cards I collected over the past three years. Through networking and cold calling, referrals and chance meetings, introductions and assignments, I had amassed a lot of business cards. Too many to keep up with, actually. I have given presentations and have a white paper on Business Card Basics, but should you care? Are these pieces of scrap paper piling up near, or on, your desk really necessary? After all, aren't these contacts in your phone? Is this practice of trading business cards obsolete in a world gone mad with social media and technology? I believe the answer is a resounding, NO.
Out of sight out of mind, remember that adage? That is why I think business cards are still important. A business card is a tangible item, not a fleeting electron that is forgotten once the "save" button is hit to be lost in the abyss of the cloud or your hard drive (which is going to fail at some time). The challenge is not getting overwhelmed by the number of cards collected and purging the collection.
I suggest you purge your business card collection into four categories.
The first and most important category is Clients. You have done business with these people and have the best opportunity of future business with them. They are happy customers. They made it possible to pay your mortgage and go on vacation. These cards are platinum to you, or diamonds, whatever, they are the people and businesses you must not forget. You must stay in touch through thank-you notes, coupons, referrals, or just a phone call to check-up on them. You need to keep up with these people who are responsible for your success.
The second category is businesses and people that may not be clients, yet, but you have trust in them and want to refer them to people who could use their services. You may know these businesses through a club or organization; and you know if you refer them they will do a great job. By making a referral you are also putting your own reputation on the line, so you only refer what you know to be the best. Of course many of your referrals will be your clients, and if they are not, maybe by making the referral you will create a client in the future.
The third category I call Golden Prospects. You may not know these people but you know they need your services or products. You want an introduction to these people. You google their business. You believe they are the kind of client you want. Perhaps you got a brief introduction at a social event and want to follow up. Maybe you read about them or saw them in the news. You are looking at this business card and thinking there is opportunity.
The fourth category I refer to as time wasters. These are the cards you have of businesses that no longer exist. This is a business that is a real long shot for you. You have tried to no avail to make them a client and for various reasons they don't qualify to be in category two (you would not refer them). Most of you know the principle that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. Yes, persistence is a key to success. But, beating a dead horse achieves nothing. Throw that card away. Better yet, put it in a recycle bin. Do not waste any more time on an egg that will not hatch. Ok, enough metaphors.
Good luck with your business card purge. If you need help with photography for your business card, that's what I do. And, I can refer you to printers and graphic designers. Business cards are not obsolete. They are the best tangible item you can share that can leave an impression or remind you to follow up for future business. No batteries required.