Saturday, January 29, 2011

The ABC's of Trade Shows and Conferences - B is for Business Cards

B is for Business Cards

When you are preparing to attend a business event, especially an out-of-town conference, be sure to plan ahead to bring enough business cards. When you are actively engaged at an professional gathering you will have the opportunity to meet many people with whom you could build a long-term mutually beneficial relationship. Having cards is paramount to real networking success.

Meeting someone at any gathering does NOT make them part of your network, it makes them someone you have met. One encounter is useless without follow-up. Your business card could be the best vehicle to be remembered once they return home to their busy life.

In our fast-changing high-tech world some people argue that the business card is "old school". They claim that people do not need to exchange contact information when it is all available online. I had a person tell me that they did not carry cards, but I was welcome to "Google" them later to get in touch. First, that attitude puts the responsibility and work for the other person. Having a card make their life earlier. You do not carry cards for yourself, you carry them as a courtesy for the people you encounter. Plus, this person had a last name I would not be able to spell (much less remember) two days later. I was confident that this was a relationship that could be beneficial to us both, but the exchange left me feeling it would be too much work. I never followed up.

Other people say they use technologies like "Bump" or other phone applications to capture information. This is arrogant, as it assumes that all other people use the same tools, and store contact information in their phone. I have an iPhone, but I do not think it fair to assume the people I meet would have the same phone. Additionally I do not want every stranger I meet to be listed in my phone, so a "Bump" is a horrible option as a way to trade contact info upon a first meeting.

The business card also allows you to easily ask for their information and exit a conversation without being rude. The card trade is an acceptable end to networking "chit chat", and if you do not have one, you might be stuck in a conversation longer than you desire.

You may appear unprepared ("Oops, I forgot to bring cards"), as a first impression if you do not have cards available when asked. At a busy and crowded event there are lots of people to meet and nobody can follow up with everyone. Forget cards and you might be forgotten.

While the business card may become obsolete one day, it is still an accepted and expected business tool in today's business world. They are a must for anyone who is attending a trade show, convention, conference, seminar or other professional gathering.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections.

No comments: