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This Is How You Turn Business Cards Into Business Opportunities

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.

      So what are you waiting for?

      Featured photo credit: flazingo.com via flic.kr

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      Last Updated on November 5, 2018

      20 Best Places to Work for a Great Career in 2018

      20 Best Places to Work for a Great Career in 2018

      Looking for a job? There’s no doubt to the fact you will want to work with a company that appreciates you for who you are.

      Well, good news. The labor market today is one that has peened up with more opportunities for advancement and personal employee improvement. This is partly due to the fact that a lot of companies have been made to understand the value of their biggest assets: the employees.

      To wit, here’s a list of companies- across a wide array of industries- that have been able to develop working environments that are healthy and accommodating to workers.

      Take a look at these 20 best place to work for a great career:

      1. Salesforce, San Francisco, California,

        Salesforce is in the information technology business and the company ranks highest due to their commitment to learning and innovation. They are ready to try new things and everyone with a new idea is always welcome to share it at the company. The company has also been known to exhibit an exceptional approach to alignment.

        Find out more about careers in Salesforce

        2. Wegmans Food Markets Inc.,Rochester, New York

          Based in Rochester, New York, employees have been known to enjoy a sense of purpose from working here. The company has been able to achieve an optimal level of engagement across all working tiers and they’ve been able to achieve great things together. They even do deliveries.

          Find out more about careers in Wegmans

          3. Ultimate Software, Weston, Florida

            Employees get amazing benefits here but that’s not the only reason why this place is so awesome to work. Whenever there is a need or a death of an Ultipeep or any of other family members, the company shows love and support like no other.

            Find out more about careers in Ultimate Software

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            4.The Boston Consulting Group, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts

              Development is at the center of anything that goes on here. The business is about people and employees are the company’s biggest asset. Employees are able to challenge the status and also leave impacts on clients.

              Find out more about careers in The Boston Consulting Group

              5. Edward Jones, St. Louis, Missouri

                Edward Jones is admired for their ability to acknowledge history without being mired down by it. The company builds on a solid foundation but there is also a level of flexibility that allows for innovation.

                Find out more about careers in Edward Jones

                6. Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, San Francisco, California

                  Kimpton is a trendsetter in the hospitality industry. The company always strives to try something different and that perspective is welcomed there at all times. Enjoy the weekends with luxury rooms, conformable mattress, furnished and well dressed service staff. A great opportunity for job seekers.

                  Find out more about careers in Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants

                  7. Workday, Pleasanton, California

                    Newbies will find no issues with feeling welcome and at home here as this has always been a core culture component of the IT giant. Everyone is treated like family and this fosters a sense of oneness.

                    Find out more about careers in Workday

                    8. Genentech, South San Francisco, California

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                      Here, employees are encouraged to be themselves. There is a feeling of care, safety, and acceptance that you get here that you can’t get at many firms. The development of an all-inclusive environment has always been foundational.

                      Find out more about careers in Genetech

                      9. Deloitte, New York, New York

                        Deloitte is one of the biggest professional service providers in the world, noted for their focus on constant learning, development and improvement. They invest in their employees and are concerned about their well being.

                        Find out more about careers in Deloitte

                        10. Baird, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

                          Baird is a financial services provide that is known for adopting a “no asshole policy’ which guides the way people relate with and respect each other, regardless of their position on the company’s hierarchy.

                          Find out more about careers in Baird

                          11. Quicken Loans, Detroit, Michigan

                            At Quicken Loans, the views and opinions of everyone are respected and heard. The organization is revered for the amount of investment they put in their team members and everyone looks for ways to grow and be better.

                            Find out more about careers in Quicken Loans

                            12. Capital One, Mclean, Florida

                              Capital One has adopted a culture that encourages employees to take risks and try new things. They foster a healthy work-life balance and associates are challenged to live better lives.

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                              Find out more about careers in Capital One

                              13. Cooley LLP, Palo Alto, California

                                Cooley LLP is a law firm known for their ability to care about the company culture and being able to develop a working environment that is empowering and fun. Cooley is known to go for the best when it comes to their employees, regardless of the occasion.

                                Find out more about careers in Cooley LLP

                                14. Southern Ohio Medical Center, Portsmouth, Ohio

                                  The medical center has been known for their propensity to delegate so much to their employees, thereby providing them with the ability to grow and learn on the job. In the end, you get a workplace that is all-engaging and super fun.

                                  Find out more about careers in Southern Ohio Medical Center

                                  15. American Express, New York, New York

                                    American Express is a firm that celebrates wins, no matter how small. Everyone is made to share the same attitude towards service and the people they are to serve, thereby making people care about what they do.

                                    Find out more about careers in American Express

                                    16. Adobe Systems Inc., San Jose, California

                                      The culture at Adobe Systems is one that encourages employees to develop their own ideas and get a strong viewpoint. As opposed to encouraging competition, work-life balance is fostered everywhere here.

                                      Find out more about careers in Adobe Systems Inc.

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                                      17. The Cheesecake Factory Inc., Calabasas, California

                                        The Cheesecake Factory rewards dedication and hard work. Promotions come pretty easy, and there is always space for guidance to develop your experience and skills.

                                        Find out more about careers in The Cheesecake Factory Inc.

                                        18. Sap America, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania

                                          If you’re looking for a new career path, SAP might be the best bet for you. The company is adept at recognizing value and transferable skills. And you can always look for a new path while maintaining your employment.

                                          Find out more about careers in Sap America

                                          19. NVIDIA Corporation, Santa Clara, California

                                            NVIDIA is known for looking after even the smallest of things. With even a “pets allowed” policy this company accepts you for who you are, and helps you to work within your personality. Advancement is also fostered, and you are able to collaborate effectively.

                                            Find out more about careers in NVIDIA

                                            20. KPMG LLP, New York, New York

                                              Communication and progressive collaboration are the foundation of this company’s workforce treatment. Regardless of the level you are, someone is always at the ready to help and the company rewards extra effort with gratitude.

                                              Find out more about careers in KPMG LLP

                                              All in all, it’s safe to say that you will be able to find somewhere to apply your skills (whatever they are) that is all inclusive and highly accommodative. Companies today are being made to understand how much they can get when they treat their employees right and this has opened the door to an encouraging work environment for all.

                                              Happy job hunting!

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