June 2, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Business Cards & Contacts

To follow up on our discussion last week, what do you do with all those business cards that you collect at networking events or chance meetings wherever you go? You should engage in a conversation with anyone, anytime, and anywhere, because you never know who you may meet and who they may know

As we have discussed before, there is no prize to the person who collects the most business cards, just like there is no prize to the person with the most contacts on LinkedIn or the most friends on Facebook. The prize of successful business goes to the person who follows up the best with all those contacts.

Many people just don’t like cold calling strangers. They don’t enjoy picking up the phone and trying to recruit an unknown person into a business relationship. It takes a person with a tough demeanor to cold call on a regular basis, and rejection from strangers can demoralize even strong people. Plus, it can take time away from running your business.

How about calling the people whose business cards that you have collected? They have already met you once, and you exchanged business cards with them. They should remember you and should not react in the same way as if a stranger called them. You should be more comfortable calling someone who themselves should be looking for new business partners. That’s why they were networking in the first place.

Don’t try to recruit them as customers. Call them to offer to meet for coffee and an informational chat. You can get to know each other and establish a networking relationship. People do business with others that they know, like, and trust. You offer to begin building that relationship and help each other succeed in business.

People who are serious about business networking will want to discover if this type of relationship is possible. Otherwise, since you don’t know each other, how could you decide to business together? Moreover, how could you provide referrals to each other? A business networking relationship may result in a new client for either, or both, of you. Even more, it may result in referrals for either, or both, of you.

Your networking partners should believe that you each have an interest in both of you being more successful. You should both strive to help each other improve your businesses, your marketing efforts, and your everyday lives. Your networking partners will give you advice before you ask for it, and everyone should set egos aside when looking for assistance. Open, honest communication must be the norm.

Are all the referrals that you pass to your partners referrals for possible clients? You may get a request from a networking partner for someone who performs some service that no one in your network does. Then, you may refer your partner to someone who may have that person in their network. Referrals can lead to referrals to referrals to referrals, and I have tracked a referral back several stages more than once.

What do you do with all those business cards that you collect? Do you throw them into a drawer, never to see the light of day, or do you try to develop relationships with others who may become your networking partners? Please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691. Let’s connect and chat about you. Maybe we can form a networking relationship with each other, if we aren’t already business partners.

1 comment:

  1. Jim,

    This is valuable advice, but it can be very awkward when a female asks a male to meet for coffee. Especially when we're not marketers, so that the concept of "having a network" is not as instinctive.

    The last time I asked a guy out for coffee (a software developer), he agreed but seemed uncomfortable. He spent our meeting tensed -- perhaps he was expecting an Amway pitch or a proposition or who knows what.... Age may be relevant -- over 40 for both of us.

    Any advice?