Think back to the many introductions and conversations you have had over the years. How many cards do you have in desk drawers, wallets, and business totes? Do you remember who those people are? Why do you have their card to begin with? Have you ever worked with them? Now ask yourself, how many opportunities of business and/or networking have you missed? That realization is exactly why the “First Impressions” series starts with business cards. So let’s review the basics.
- Be legible. Your name and company’s name should be easy to read. Your logo should be appropriately sized and placed on the card.
- Be clear. There should be no question as to what your business is and what your role is in that business. Taglines are not a bad idea. They help describe your business and tend to help people remember you after your initial interaction.
- Clean and Crisp. You should always be prepared with clean cards kept in a protected holder or space that are easy to find. Don’t ruin your great first impression digging for a card or apologizing for the rough looking one at the bottom of your business tote.
The Use. Networking can be a very awkward time for a lot of business people. Even at a networking event, there can be hesitation for some to simply walk up and start a conversation. That’s understandable. In today’s world where human interaction seems a rarity, more and more people may become uncomfortable with networking. However, clientele is built, network is strengthened, and buzz about your business often lies on the other end of a random conversation. But when do you hand the card off?
- Do not walk up, hand your business card to someone, and walk off. This is the human equivalent to spam. It’s unwelcomed and unsolicited advertising. It’s impersonal. More than anything else, it’s unprofessional.
- Make a connection that leads you to the hand off. During your conversation or near the end, the words “well here is my card” should feel completely comfortable if the time you have spent has been worthwhile. It’s no longer unsolicited or unwelcomed. You are no longer walking spam.
- If you don’t feel the natural place in a conversation to give your card, wait until you are asked. Don’t be offended if you are not asked. Afterall, business cards cost money. If they don’t think they see path to working with you, they are doing you a favor by not wasting your time or resources.
The Next Step. Unfortunately, after many have a great conversation and give their business card at the end of a winning first impression, they let it end there. The business card is just the beginning. It is the knocking on the door of business opportunity. So don’t hesitate to send a linkedin request or email to say thanks for taking the time to converse and let’s not let it end here. People want to feel as though they had an impression on you, just as you hope to have had one on them. When that first impression goes a step further to the next impression, you have successfully utilized the most common business tool in the business person’s tool box.
Don’t let the business card hustle become so mundane for you that you forget these few basics. Every offering of a business card is the start of a new journey. Ensure you have mastered the basics so that you will be clear to see the journey through to the end.