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This Is How You Turn Business Cards Into Business Opportunities

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This Is How You Turn Business Cards Into Business Opportunities

Networking with business cards is not dead. In fact, the digital age has brought about great opportunities for successfully connecting and following up after exchanging business cards.

Below, you’ll learn how to develop a follow-up system and turn your business cards into business opportunities.

Here is the basic formula:

  1. get your contact’s card
  2. digitize the card
  3. create a follow-up action list for each contact
  4. establish an objective for each contact
  5. create a memorable message for each contact
  6. send an email including a video and a call to action
  7. document next steps on your action list

Use your business cards to get business cards

Think of a business card less as a representation of yourself and more as a business card magnet. Your card is the key to exchanging more cards. Simply by having one, and offering it wherever you can, you’re encouraging a reciprocal relationship to form. Instead of worrying about the font or the color of your card, practice your approach to handing over your card in a way that ensures you get a card back. This is important, because once you nail that part, you can own the process of following up.

Business card exchange tips:

Get personal. When you connect with a lot of people, it can be easy to become a networking drone, and fall into predictable patterns. Your contacts likely experience the same thing. Shake up your interaction. Connect on topics related to something outside of business, like a hometown, sports team, or your love of dogs. Bond over something that helps your contacts remember you, and you remember your contacts.

Study your contact’s card before putting it away. Associate the moment with the information on the card to help you recall it.

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Cultures outside the US expect more formal business card etiquette. You can find a good overview of other countries’ customs here.

Build a system to simplify your follow-up process

Evernote is by far the best way to automate your follow up process. It’s a free program (with options to upgrade) and it excels at making hard documents like business cards searchable. Simply use the Evernote app to take a picture of the card with your phone. Evernote will pull the information from the business card, and store a picture of the card as well.

Automating your follow-up process with Evernote

Build a ‘Contacts’ Notebook. This is where you will scan business cards into, and where you will store important information about your contacts.

Create a Follow-up Template as a note. Creating one template now saves you time later. Copy this note every time you add a contact, and name that note after your contact.

Components of your Follow-up Template:

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  • Objective: what do you want this relationship to be? A potential customer? A connection for a job down the line?
  • Follow-up action items: use checkboxes.

Screenshot 2015-07-16 16.23.17 copy
    • Notes: what did you talk about when you exchanged cards? Keep note of anything memorable to jog their memory of the conversation and establish a personal connection.
    • Next steps: paraphrase their response here. Maybe they need more information from you, or they have sent you an action you need to take. Record that information here and list further action steps as needed.

    Screenshot 2015-07-16 16.23.17
      Using Tags

      Tags are a great Evernote feature that allows you customize your data even further. You can use tags to describe the stages your contact relationship is in with “follow-up”, “intro call”, or “monthly client”.

      Tags can also be used to keep track of dates: “Followed up on 7/1,” or, “Replied on 7/4.”

      Keeping track of these dates can be useful in evaluating whether it’s time to reach out again. Tags are important when you have a lot of contacts to manage. With Evernote, you can search for multiple tags at the same time, which allows you to cross-reference your contacts.

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      Other Follow-up Evernote Tips

      The Evernote Web Clipper is an excellent browser extension that you can use to save emails, files or webpages your contacts share with you. Evernote integrates beautifully with Gmail if you want to keep a copy of your email. Make sure you tag the email to keep it grouped with the other contact information.

      If you prefer to handwrite your notes, Evernote can be used with more than just business cards. You can take a picture using the Evernote app and your handwritten notes will be searchable, and you can also tag them.

      The three parts of a successful introduction email

      Now that you have a system in place, it’s time to focus on the most important part: your introduction email. There are three parts of a successful email:

      Know your purpose. Networking without an objective is a waste of your time and your contact’s time. Know exactly where you want this relationship to go. Are you looking for a client, a mentor, a connection at a company? Use this objective to shape your introduction email.

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      Create a memorable message in your email. Chances are you’re business card was one of many business cards your contact has collected. You’re likely also one of many people to follow up after providing their card to the contact. You want to be distinctive, increasing your likelihood of a response. Shari Alexander records a two minute video to send to her contacts, and with this process has achieved a 100% response rate. A simple video will not only stand out, it will remind them of who you are, especially if you include a personal note in your video.

      If video isn’t your speed, try a picture with a handwritten card, such as: “Great to meet you at Sales Con, John.” You are still benefiting from the ‘face to face’ connection, but without the time requirement of making a video.

      If their business card includes an address, you could forgo the email completely and write a handwritten card. It’s a lovely call back to the days of business past; it’s a showcase of how much you valued meeting them, and it’s a treat for them to receive something so personal in the mail.

      Include a call to action, and make it easy. Do you want to set up a call with your contact? Do you want to meet them for coffee? Do you want to invite them to your event? State this call to action clearly, and compel them to act by making it irresistible. Propose some dates and times, or link to your calendar. Eliminate any barriers for your contacts choosing to act. A memorable message will help prime them to say yes, so make it incredibly easy for them to do so.

      Act Now

      Most people won’t act on this advice. Why? Because it can seem like a lot of work. But if you make the time now to set up a system, following up with your contacts won’t be a lot of work at all. It will be a snap for you to stay on top of all your connections and stand out as a networking superstar.

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      So what are you waiting for?

      Featured photo credit: flazingo.com via flic.kr

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      20 Ways to Describe Yourself in a Job Interview

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      20 Ways to Describe Yourself in a Job Interview

      “Please describe yourself in a few words”.

      It’s the job interview of your life and you need to come up with something fast. Mental pictures of words are mixing in your head and your tongue tastes like alphabet soup. You mutter words like “deterministic” or “innovativity” and you realize you’re drenched in sweat. You wish you had thought about this. You wish you had read this post before.

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        Here are 20 sentences that you could use when you are asked to describe yourself. Choose the ones that describe you the best.

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        “I am someone who…”:

        1. “can adapt to any situation. I thrive in a fluctuating environment and I transform unexpected obstacles into stepping stones for achievements.”
        2. “consistently innovates to create value. I find opportunities where other people see none: I turn ideas into projects, and projects into serial success.”
        3. “has a very creative mind. I always have a unique perspective when approaching an issue due to my broad range of interests and hobbies. Creativity is the source of differentiation and therefore, at the root of competitive advantage.”
        4. “always has an eye on my target. I endeavour to deliver high-quality work on time, every time. Hiring me is the only real guarantee for results.”
        5. “knows this job inside and out. With many years of relevant experience, there is no question whether I will be efficient on the job. I can bring the best practices to the company.”
        6. “has a high level of motivation to work here. I have studied the entire company history and observed its business strategies. Since I am also a long-time customer, I took the opportunity to write this report with some suggestions for how to improve your services.”
        7. “has a pragmatic approach to things. I don’t waste time talking about theory or the latest buzz words of the bullshit bingo. Only one question matters to me: ‘Does it work or not?'”
        8. “takes work ethics very seriously. I do what I am paid for, and I do it well.”
        9. “can make decisions rapidly if needed. Everybody can make good decisions with sufficient time and information. The reality of our domain is different. Even with time pressure and high stakes, we need to move forward by taking charge and being decisive. I can do that.”
        10. “is considered to be ‘fun.’ I believe that we are way more productive when we are working with people with which we enjoy spending time. When the situation gets tough with a customer, a touch of humour can save the day.”
        11. “works as a real team-player. I bring the best out of the people I work with and I always do what I think is best for the company.”
        12. “is completely autonomous. I won’t need to be micromanaged. I won’t need to be trained. I understand high-level targets and I know how to achieve them.”
        13. “leads people. I can unite people around a vision and motivate a team to excellence. I expect no more from the others than what I expect from myself.”
        14. “understands the complexity of advanced project management. It’s not just pushing triangles on a GANTT chart; it’s about getting everyone to sit down together and to agree on the way forward. And that’s a lot more complicated than it sounds.”
        15. “is the absolute expert in the field. Ask anybody in the industry. My name is on their lips because I wrote THE book on the subject.”
        16. “communicates extensively. Good, bad or ugly, I believe that open communication is the most important factor to reach an efficient organization.”
        17. “works enthusiastically. I have enough motivation for myself and my department. I love what I do, and it’s contagious.”
        18. “has an eye for details because details matter the most. How many companies have failed because of just one tiny detail? Hire me and you’ll be sure I’ll find that detail.”
        19. “can see the big picture. Beginners waste time solving minor issues. I understand the purpose of our company, tackle the real subjects and the top management will eventually notice it.”
        20. “is not like anyone you know. I am the candidate you would not expect. You can hire a corporate clone, or you can hire someone who will bring something different to the company. That’s me. “

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