Business cards have been used for years, but are they really effective?

With the influx of smart phones, do people even use business cards anymore?

The answer is yes, but the problems still remain the same. It’s not the business card, but the way people approach networking that’s the fundamental problem.

Here are some tips on what not to do, along with suggestions on how to improve your follow-up so that people you meet will want to do business with you in the future.

The Awkwardness of Business Cards

Recently, I was speaking at a seminar on the subject of building online communities and membership sites. Following my presentation, many people wanted to connect and discuss my presentation, their ideas, and get feedback and suggestions for their own membership sites.

I enjoy speaking to people about membership sites, but I find the networking side always awkward.

People want to stay in touch, but they don’t know the best way to do that. So what happens, is they use the business card as a crutch.

They hand me a business card and then put the responsibility of following up on me.

I’ll just tell you from experience…

I purposely do not follow up (unless I initiate it), because I look at the 1st follow-up as a test to see if somebody is really interested in staying connected. If someone reaches out beyond the business card, then it shows me they serious. If not, then the answer is obvious.

So what are some simple ways to stay connected with someone you meet at an event?

Here are some quick tips on how to have an effective follow-up…

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Ways To Stay Connected

1) Take A Picture and E-mail It

By far the best way for someone to remember you, is to send them a picture of yourself. Even better, is to send them a picture of you and them together at the event. It reminds them that you actually met and helps the person remember who you are.

We have to be mindful of the fact that at seminars, conferences and workshops, people are meeting not just you, but many other people as well. So it’s important to prevent confusion by reminding someone with your picture together… and people always like seeing a picture of themselves 🙂

2) Video Message

If you want to ”biggie size” the picture concept, then send someone a short 15–20 second video. Use the video as an opportunity to connect again. Don’t use it as a platform to pitch your next product or service.  Remember, 15-20 seconds.

Again, the whole purpose of the video is to remind them of who you are with a friendly face and perhaps a quick reminder of what you talked about. The key with the video, is to keep it short. If your video is longer than 30 seconds, it’s too long.

One of the easiest ways to create these short personal videos, is to go to YouTube.com and record a video straight from your web cam. Then either select the private settings or the unlisted video settings. That way your video will not appear to the general public but you’ll have a direct link that you can send a person in an e-mail or DM on Twitter.

YouTube’s unlisted settings will prevent your video from showing up in “search” but will give you a direct link you can give someone to still view the video.

3) Postcard With Picture

Ink Cards: Photo Greeting Cards is a great app for taking pictures and immediately turning them into postcards.

If you happen to get the person’s mailing address, then consider sending them a personal postcard with a picture from the event. The most effective postcard will be one containing a picture of you and the person you are connecting with. When they see their picture on the front of a postcard, you’re almost guaranteed they will read the message on the back.

There is a great iPhone app called “Ink Cards: Photo Greeting Cards” which allows you to take a picture using your iPhone and then immediately create a postcard that you could send to the person you just met.

All you need to do is top up your account and the service will turn your picture into a postcard and mail it to the address you specify. It’s fast, it’s easy, and the best time to send the postcard is within a few hours after taking the picture. It will have a much more dramatic effect if the postcard arrives shortly after the person returns from their trip – so do it right away before you forget.

Another good service for sending personal pictures with postcards, is a service called Send Out Cards. It too makes the process of sending cards easy.

Either way this is a very effective method for reconnecting with people you meet at different events.

4) Facebook or Twitter

As a last resort, try connecting with the people you meet on Facebook or Twitter. However, the best way to connect with people on Facebook or Twitter is to share a few things you appreciate about the person you just met.

Everybody, enjoys hearing good things about themselves… especially in a public forum like Facebook or Twitter.

One very effective strategy that someone (Andy Traub) used with me at BlogWorld was to take a picture of me delivering my presentation. In this particular situation, Andy used an iPhone app called “Pano“. This app took a landscape panoramic picture that captured not only me presenting, but the whole audience as well. It would be very difficult to capture this type of picture with a regular camera so it immediately caught my attention.

Andy then followed up, sent me the picture and also posted it on Facebook and Twitter with several positive comments about my presentation. I immediately responded with a thank you and because of this, we have stayed in regular contact and built a friendship.

The app “Pano” makes it easy to take panoramic pictures with your iPhone

Conclusion

Staying connected with new people you meet, does not have to be difficult. The key is to be thoughtful. And the fastest way to emotionally reconnect with the people you meet is to remind them of who you are through pictures and or video.

A business card just doesn’t cut it anymore. And handing a business card to someone hoping that they will follow-up with you is absolutely the wrong approach. Take responsibility for the development of the relationships you want to build and be proactive.

With smart phones it has never been easier to create that emotional connection in a short period of time.

Plus, it will separate you from all the other people handing out business cards hoping to hear from the people they’ve given them to.

Your Turn

What networking faux pas have you come across?

What was the most effective follow-up you’ve ever experienced?

Is there something that you do to make people remember you?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

  • I don’t normally create Cliffs’ Notes out of posts – however this hits the spot Stu!

    Have been experiencing the biz card dilemma lately as my speaking has increased.
    Thanks for advancing my thinking so that I can pick and choose the strategies according to the different scenarios I encounter.

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