Wednesday, April 02, 2008


It makes me laugh.

Lot's of people still think that networking is all about handing out cards.

Recently, I was at a networking event where the participants were encouraged to network with each other at the end of the meeting. I had just finished chatting with one gentleman when a lady came up and breathlessly said, "I am not doing very well with getting my cards handed out, so I'm just going to pass them out at each setting."

I am always amazed when networkers (unschooled ones at that) have a goal of getting rid of as many of their business cards as possible. They obviously think that is the reason for attending an event. Little do they know that they could just save time and dump the contents of their business card holder into the trash bin.

A business card is a static object that doesn't tell me anything about the person behind the card. I am not going to blindly do business with a mystery man or woman. Most business people want to make a connection first and do business second.

If your goal is passing out as many business cards as possible, my challenge to you is to have one meaningful conversation at the next event you attend and only give a business card to the people who request it. What is a meaningful conversation? It could be several questions that you ask so you know more about the business of the person you are talking to. It could be finding out who their best customer might be. It could be asking them if there is someone they want to be introduced to. It could be just finding out what you have in common with each other.


What suggestions do you have about this topic?


Jacki Hollywood Brown said...

I went to a "networking" meeting once where one lady went around handing out her sales catalog for some sort of beauty product line (similar to AVON). As IF I would buy from her. A networking meeting isn't a "Tupperware party"!

Debby said...

I couldn't have said it better Jacki. What really sad is, that is the training they are given by those types of companies.

Cheryl Engfer said...

I'm assuming these are not CN grads doing this right? Cuz if it were they all must've been absent during this module.

Next time it happens give them information on CN, promote yourself. Who knows maybe you could get connected with the organizers of these functions you attend and suggest speaking for a few minutes on the "politeness of networking" Their not figuring it out on their own, so this could be a definite step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

I like business cards. Really I do. If people hadn't given me business cards or a friend given me a business card, I never would have met:
the fence builder
tree trimmer
web designer
investment guru
business form provider
care provider for elder
and many people I actually call good friends. If someone gives me three cards and says "help me build my business", I will get to know them better and find out if I can help them.

My life would be less rich if I turned my nose up at someone who gave me their unasked for card. But don't worry, I'll keep my cards in my pocket at local networking events - I wouldn't want to offend.

Debby said...

In reply to anonymous, this post is not about being offensive, but about not connecting. The person I described had a card that was not self-explanatory. Her card alone would not have given me any idea what she did. With that in mind, she thought the object was to pass out as many cards as possible. The return on the investment of time and money spent for cards was not going to be as good as she hoped. She probably would be one of those people who at the end of one year of membership in the organization, would say, "I'm not rejoining, because I didn't get anything." My goal was to help her to realize that connecting with one person and talking about her business was more profitable than spreading her cards around the room.