Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Where Do All Those Business Cards Go?

Do you cringe after spending $35 on a box of business cards?

Yeah, sometimes I can’t figure out why I have them either.

Seems like I give them out and they fall into a black hole or perhaps a waste receptacle. About 90% of the time, I follow up with people that I’ve exchanged cards with, but those people respond back to my initial contact maybe 10% of the time. Even sadder, I rarely hear from the other party first despite their enthusiasm when meeting me.

Seems like a big waste of energy, no? I’m almost imagining that there’s a land far beyond Middle Earth where all those lost and discarded business cards strive to travel to. They face the fierce battles of rain, sleet, snow and (and let’s not forget) fire, to arrive at a perfect world where humans will never touch them again and where they can simply mingle with their own kind and complement each other on their designs.

But wait! Business cards aren’t intended to go off to their own version of utopia. So, just what IS the purpose of the business card anyway? That would include:

For sharing your contact info with someone that ask for it and wants to follow-up.
Creating awareness and imagery of your brand (handing out at events or having a stack of them available somewhere)
Sharing information that perhaps someone doesn’t need today, but may need tomorrow.
Networking reinforcement…here’s my card (now don’t forget me).
For throwing in the free lunch bowl…high chance of being a winner there!
Providing information that explains who YOU are and what YOU do.

Naturally, not all of the above may apply to you.  But you get the idea.

And the shelf life of a business card? Five minutes to several years.

Been pondering the life of a business card for some time now. As an experiment at a meet-up, I purposely didn’t bring business cards and after giving my “oops, I switched purses but neglected to move my business cards from one to another” spiel, I simply collected cards from those I spoke to at the event. There were about twenty folks there in total and I collected eight cards. I followed up on every single one, and guess what? No replies! Interestingly enough, I received an invite to connect on LinkedIn about five months later from one of the eight (let’s call this gent “JR”):

I noticed that we share a similar LinkedIn Group called ConnectOC and thought it would be appropriate to connect here. 
Please feel free to investigate who’s in my Contact Sphere that might be able to help you in your business endeavors. 
Be more than ordinary… 

I shot back a message reminding JR that we had met a few months earlier and was he perhaps challenging my recall abilities?

Needless to say, I did not connect with JR on LinkedIn.  Humph.

So we’re giving out little pieces of heavy paper that cost money and do very little for us? And why even bother going to events to meet people if you’re not going to follow up with some of them?

Stayed tuned for part two (tomorrow) where I share some best practices with you that will make those little cards do more of the work for you.


Todd Appleman said...

Business Cards are absolutely valuable. Networking in the vitural world may make Business Cards seem less important in the 21st Century. That said, we still meet with live human beings...some of whom you may have met via Social Media. When you meet, you should hand your contact a Business Card just like in the good old days...even before we had computers!

Todd A.

Shannon Grissom said...

I don't leave home without them :O)

= mr uxn design = kris said...

i am working on new ones right now!

you ll love to get one, i promise ... ;)

Gerry Wendel said...

Thanks for the comments. Kris, can't wait to see your card!