In the ongoing (and needless) battle between digital and print media, printers are often looked at as a dying resistance to the new age that is paperless and tech savvy. I came across an article by Brian de Haaff urging readers to “Stop Handing Out Business Cards,” which could only make me react by saying, “What the CMYK?!”
In fact, print is on the rise. Millennials are turning back to a more tactile and tangible form. Be it authenticity, the accessibility, or being personal, the fact of the matter is that print isn’t dying, it’s changing.
Brian, while understanding the importance of forward thinking in the tech world, fails to realize the key components to networking and relationship building from an old art form. Here’s why:
"[Business cards] were an inexpensive and easy way to communicate who you were and what you did."
Were? They still are! While he laments we’re still utilizing a “17th century” strategy, the purpose has never changed, but how you hand them out has. Surely, don’t “hand them out indiscriminately.” If you do, please stop. Often, it’s a closer to a conversation before moving on so you can remember to follow up when you get back to the office.
You Can Use Your Phone
The first and foremost concept in networking today is to step away from digital and show that you are personable and trustworthy. Whipping out your phone at an event like this is frowned upon and it’s just downright tacky. It’s also a waste of time.
Why? Consider this: How long does it take for you to dig your phone out, unlock your screen, and finally open your contacts app? Are you holding a drink or folder? Is there a table to set it down? Are you instead typing with one hand? Is it loud and crowded? Did he just say “thirteen” or “thirty”? Is his last name “Jack Schmidt”? Is auto-correct on? Dammit, auto-correct! THAT’S not his name!
I’ll bet between two people, you’re spending about three minutes doing this. What’s three minutes to you? If your goal is to meet five people that night, that’s 15 minutes you could be spending with a sixth person.
But There's LinkedIn...
No doubt, social media has made us a more interconnected world and has helped keep up to date and in touch with our contacts long after the business card title or company has long become obsolete. LinkedIn is THE business professional’s social media channel to connecting with colleagues, clients, and prospects. But there’s one caveat when connecting: it asks how you know a person when trying to connect.
Hmm, they’re not a “colleague”. We never went to school so “classmate” is out. We technically haven’t done business together yet. “Friend” is a strong word being that we just met. I guess it’s “Other.” Oh look! It asks what their email address is. Good thing you have their business card handy. That sixth contact is a great lead!
Now that you have a handful of new contacts after your network event, take the next step and put that information in your CRM or address book. Connect on LinkedIn. And by all means, if you find yourself having a great conversation and want to set up a time right away to talk more, that's the time to get out your phone and set a date!
The ultimate goal to networking is meeting strong leads to do business with. But often, this game is a slower process, and you’ll be finding yourself following up a few more times to create that golden opportunity when your lead is comfortable and in front of their schedule to find the time to sit and learn more.
And unless you really like that card, who’s to say you can’t (forgive the pun) discard it? But in the recycle bin, of course! While we all want to save a few trees (and don’t worry, we do in our paper world), the irony is how technology when not used properly can waste our time.
So let me ask, do you still use business cards? How do you use them? And if you do whip out your phone instead, how long does it take you to exchange info? If you’ve got a unique business card design, tweet it to me @SpringsteelGD. I’m always looking for those who proudly say #PrintsNotDead.