I just attended a great business mixer by the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. The mixer was held at the Miami Herald and hosted by the newspaper’s Miami Beachsales rep, Ted Hay. I have been an active net-worker for sometime and have learned to be humbly aggressive in meeting people at these gatherings. There is always an opportunity to sell yourself or your business, but it’s sometimes easier at a business networking event (for some people; others are think of networkers as a great place for free food). It all comes down to:
- Are you mentally prepared to give and receive business
- Will you present yourself effectively
- Will you make a personal connection that is deeper than just your pitch.
It seems that I am always confronted by:
- People that hide in a corner sipping on their coffee or eating a bagel not interacting with anyone.
- The initial handshake and conversation, which turns to the exchange of business cards and your counterpart gives you one of the following:
- “I don’t have one”
- “I ran out” (which could be a good thing, if you have met every single person at the event, and the last handshake is for a tardy walk in)
You should always have a business card and you always need to have a backup stack ready (stick some in your socks). Some day there will be a universal way that cell phones can pass or bump contact information from one person to the other, but until then, nothing says what you do and how to get a hold of you better than your business card.
Now if you don’t have a business card or just rely on inputting the persons’ info on your phone or contacting them; you are at a disadvantage. There is a game to the business card shuffle. Here is my shuffle:
- Meet someone and exchange cards.
- If I am interested in the person’s business, then when I get back to my office I send a “How’ya doin” email.
- Save their contact info
- And wait to get a response or follow up with a phone call in about a week.
- Those cards of people that didn’t make an impression on me, they go into a stack.
- That stack grows, gets repositioned on my desk a 100 times, gets stored, gets put together into a house for my Munny).
- All with the goal of eventually inputting them all into my contacts.
At the end of the day, it might be months before I see the business cards for that cutting edge caterer or that dentist who uses sedation to drill into your teeth. But I will see their cards again. The second time, I might have a need for that caterer and then get my teeth worked on after I eat that molecular gastronomic dessert.
A business card is a fundamental tool in getting you out there and to be remembered by your newest best friends. Creating a card that is professionally designed, may get peoples attention. A business card is the 21st. century Colt 45, imagine going to a saloon in the 19th. century Dodge city without your gun.
During the mixer, the only card that really stood out was one from a soon to be opened hotel.
The business card was a plastic room key(not a good thing if your sweetheart checks your pockets, but it would definitely stir up a conversation).
Obviously the cost of creating a card like this is more than the average business person has to spend, but there are hundreds of other creative ideas that can make your prospects take notice.
At the end of the day, you want to promote your business. You want your business to always be in mind. Sometimes it all starts with a handshake, your 1-minute pitch, and your business card. What does having or not having a business card say about you?