Several years ago, I went to a networking event. Now, this was a new venue for me so, I thought I would try it out. As I walked into the event, John, we’ll call him, an extremely well-dressed gentleman entered with me. To my surprise, he had a stack of business cards, about three inches thick, torn and bent and wrapped in a HUGE rubber band. I took a double take, thinking he was going to put them in his pocket, but he turned to me, held them up like a trophy and said, “I mean business!” And he kept them like that all evening, passing them out as if they were flyers at a hardware store opening, and this was a professional networking event!
Later, John, sat down at a table, with would-be clients, and said, “You need me,” and then tossed his business card to the person across the table. I can’t be positive, but I think that may have been a wasted business card.
In the world of Business Card Protocol, this behavior is called Littering.
Business cards are extremely important for networking, yet forcing cards on innocent bystanders who may respect the importance of forming trust and relationships, may prove to be counterproductive. The word will spread and would-be connections may run for cover if they see the same person packing a wad of cards, heading their direction. Here are tips for making sure your business cards are received, respected and most importantly, retained:
- Keep your cards in a case and/or side pocket for easy access.
- Don’t offer your card early in a conversation. When your conversation is over, simply ask “What is the best way for me to reach you?” Almost always, the response will be, “let me give you my card.” That is then your cue to offer them yours.
- Present your card with the print facing the recipient so the recipient doesn’t have to turn it around to read it.
- When receiving a card, admire and comment on their card. Remember, their card represents them and they are proud of them. Don’t write on the business card in their presence.
- Last, but not least, never carry your business cards in a rubber band, and never toss them while networking. You might as well be playing 52 Card Pick-up!
In the extremely dark comedy, American Psycho, notice how obsessive these four are about the perfect business card. Enjoy!