October 17, 2008

What do you do with all those business cards?

This is an actual picture of all the business cards in the top drawer of a colleague's desk. He is going to KILL me for posting this :)

I know you collect business cards at networking events, client meetings, conferences, etc.

Here are my 3 questions for you today:

  • Where do you put them?
  • What do you do with them when you get back to the office?
  • Do you have a plan to process them, or do you hoard them as my colleague does?

I want to hear from all business owners, but especially from you, Suzanne and Janet.

As for me, I actually only take a card if I...

  • like the person and want to stay in touch socially :)
  • want to network some more with that person - maybe send them a copy of my newsletter
  • need the person's help professionally
  • want to hook them up with one of my clients
I keep them in my folder until I get home and then I...

  1. put them to the left of my keyboard so that they annoy me until I process them. I'm a visual person so I can't stand the clutter!
  2. schedule some time (10 minutes or so) to enter their details in Outlook, usually within the next week. I get myself in the mood and just work through the whole batch.
  3. connect with them via Facebook (my preference) or email
  4. throw the cards away! This is critical.

Over to you!
Please answer my 3 questions.

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Janet Barclay said...

1. Within a few days of meeting the person, I send an email to remind them who I am and where we met, sending them any information I may have mentioned during our conversation.

2. If it's someone I definitely want to stay in touch with or expect to have referrals for in the future, I enter the details in my Outlook contacts.

3. Unless I expect to pass the business card on to someone, it then gets recycled.

Bizcard said...

Do not throw the cards, instead build a business card wall. It may look nice.

Polly said...

1) Where do you put them?

I put them in a three-ring binder that is divided alphabetically. Behind each alphabetical section are card pocket sheets that are business card- sized. They hold 10 cards each.

What do you do with them when you get back to the office?

I keep them in this file, and then when someone calls me or asks me for a referral to someone who does the kind of work that my associates do, I look up their name and give the person their phone number.

Do you have a plan to process them, or do you hoard them as my colleague does?

I don't take the cards unless I feel I can refer them to someone. I send an e-mail later if it is appropriate. I let the person know why I'm taking their card if I plan to use it for that reason. If I don't, I just keep it in the binder for my own reference.

(I use the computer all the time, but I am a paper-based person - too many crashes in the past to ever "only" have a computer backup - no matter how many backups I have, including one off site.)

Polly Scott

Joyce Aldawood said...

I keep customer's business cards so I can give or send them business. In networking situations, I write the date and function on the back of the card so that I know when and where I met them. I try to follow up with a phone or email to each person I meet- although, I admit I am not always perfect about this. I did buy a rol-o-dex specifically to address the storage of business cards- but need to use it....

Marcia said...

Polly, what a great system you have and I love that you don’t take cards unless you know you can refer them!

Joyce, I find that if you schedule time for just after the event, it's more likely to get done. Great system too.