Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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:

Advertising

  • 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.

      Advertising

      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.

      Advertising

      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

      More by this author

      This Is How You Turn Business Cards Into Business Opportunities

      Trending in Work

      1 How to Start an Online Business That Will Grow and Succeed 2 How to Change Careers Successfully When It Seems too Late 3 9 Essential Tips for Starting Your Own Business 4 Do What You Love and Love What You Do to Achieve More 5 12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on September 29, 2020

      How to Start an Online Business That Will Grow and Succeed

      How to Start an Online Business That Will Grow and Succeed

      Unsurprisingly enough, all businesses are online today. Considering the advances in the smartphone industry as well as the increasingly accessible internet facility, it was only a matter of time before businesses took advantage of the online environment.

      This increasing popularity makes for a promising future for a lot of young entrepreneurs. And knowing how to start an online business will open up a world of possibilities for you that was not possible 10 years ago.

      So, keeping the potential for exponential growth in mind, let’s dive into the article below, and explore the steps of starting an online business that will bring you success.

      1. Becoming the Master of ‘ONE’ Trade

      Most successful online businesses are the master of one trade. And that’s why beginning with a niche is always a good idea.

      A niche market is a focused segment within a larger market. Imagine a men’s shoes market and then, imagine handcrafted brown Italian leather shoes for men. While the previous one is a bigger market, the latter one is simply a more focused segment within that market.

      Knowing the niche helps a lot to start an online business and if you are feeling a bit lost, here are some self-queries that will act as a perfect guide:

      What Speaks to Your Heart?

      This first way of discovering the niche is perfect for those who want to do what they love. Working in a market that you love will ensure that constant excitement and drive to do better, eventually leading to ultimate prosperity.

      Advertising

      Decisions Based on Knowledge

      The second way is perfect for those who have a lot of untapped knowledge about a specific industry. Utilizing the insights on a specific industry is a great way to find a niche. This way, you’ll already know all the ins and outs of the industry and can easily get ahead of all the competitors.

      Undiscovered Potential

      Lastly, conducting research into various industries and finding an untapped segment is another amazing way of finding the right niche. This practice will require you to come up with a new and unique solution for uncatered audiences.

      2. When Is Your Idea Valid?

      All the great ideas for starting an online business needs to be valid. And once you have found the niche, this validation process is what comes next.

      Proving the soundness of the idea is not at all hard. A detailed industry examination is all you need initially to understand the value of the concept and recalibrate it to turn into a great online business.

      Market research is a systematic unraveling of the target market. This research will include all the information on the product/service you are about to sell, the target audience, and how the competitors are operating in this crowded market.

      This in-depth research will give you the initial idea of how the products can make an impact in the outside world. And once the small online business ideas are validated, it will be time to move on and craft a plan and start working on establishing the business.

      3. Crafting the Map to Success

      Having a proper plan for an online business is like having a map when you travel to an unknown city. This is a document that includes all the factual information on the business and crucial business data.

      Advertising

      To help you out, here’s a list of all the information online business plans must include:

      • An idea of objective – The best online business plans always have a clear outline of the business goals and intentions. Having this clear outline will increase the efficiency of business functions later on. The target demographic, business model—all kinds of information needs to be a part of this document.
      • Taking stock of available resources – A startup needs to utilize all the resources it has, and that’s why the plan needs to have an in-depth outline of the financial resources in use as well as the employees and their expertise. With a better idea of all the resources in hand, starting an online business will be an easier process.

      4. The Virtual Storefront: A Process of Development

      The steps of how to start an online business are incomplete without the website creation process. With the right website approach, you can easily succeed in increasing business revenue.

      What does that perfect business website look like? Let’s follow these steps to create an effective business website.

      Choose Your Approach

      There are numerous ways of making a website and for a positive outcome, you need to choose the perfect approach. Depending on the business model, initial finances, and end goals, there are two kinds of approaches for the online storefront:

      • Third-party approach – Third-party platforms will connect you with the customers out there. For small online business ideas, Creating an account or site with these platforms will be beneficial because these platforms come with a large array of services as well as a big enough existing consumer base ready to utilize.
      • Creating a new website –  A business-specific website will help you eliminate the third party go-between and connect directly with the buyers. With this approach, you get more control over the business and how it is presented to the consumers out there and the revenue you make. Any of the above-mentioned approaches can be beneficial for easy online business startups. However, to achieve some specific business goals, having a customized website will be more beneficial for you.

      Design Can Bring You Maximum Success!

      For those who have decided to create their own site, the design is of paramount importance. With a great design, you will be able to engage and interact with the visitors better and encourage them to make a purchase.

      The design, however, is not just a matter of aesthetics. A website’s design encompasses all aspects of it, from the visual effects to the content that’s used on the site.

      To create a truly amazing design that reflects new online business concepts here are a few matters to consider:

      Advertising

      • Keep it responsive – Many markets are simply skipping over the desktop phase and launching the business for mobile users around the world.[1] Considering this popularity of the mobile internet market, the business website has to be responsive. This approach will help you to reach a bigger audience and conduct business on a larger scale.
      • Users want a fast experience – Using high-quality images on the site does improve the visuals, but make sure all those images are compressed. Having a faster website will enhance the user experience on the site. Besides compressing all the media content on the site, you can also utilize an asynchronous loading technique that loads all the contents simultaneously, reducing friction. With a faster site, it will become easier to implement the online business startup ideas into reality.
      • Define the brand – The design stage determines a lot of things for the business website and one of those things is the business image. To make an impact on the world with the business, you have to create a perfect image and for that, a brand guide is necessary. The brand guide is a document that includes all the information and guidelines on various visual elements on the site that makes up the business personality. Based on the kind of image you want to create, all the elements will be outlined in this documentation.

      Where the Website Becomes Reality

      Since we know how website design helps to launch a successful online business, it is time to move onto development. Online business development is where the idea becomes a reality. And to make this reality perfect, you need to make sure that the development and deployment process goes well.

      A high performing site always includes all the right features that enhance the user experience as well as helps you to convert more traffic. And for the best results, ensure the use of only the latest tech stack during development.

      Here are some development issues you have to pay attention to while building the business website:

      • The right partner makes all the difference – For small startups who are wondering how to start an online business, finding the right development partner is going to make all the difference. However, before making a decision, there are a few things you should contemplate. The team that you are about to hire should have experience in catering to your industry, as well as an extensive portfolio and good reviews. Additionally, it will be perfect if the agency or freelancer also provides a 360-degree service, from development to maintenance.
      • How to assure the quality of the site? – Testing the site is an integral part of the answer to the question of “how to start an online business?”. An experienced partner will be able to help you the most with this. From security testing to split testing, this stage in development will help in understanding how well the site functions and what needs to change. And once the changes are made and the test results come clean, it will be time to launch the website.

      5. Some Tricks to Increase Online Sales

      Selling online is not easy, but not hard either. In a physical store, you can use campaigns, go door to door with pamphlets, and such. However, successful online businesses have their own style of campaigns that helps them to sell more without any problems.

      So, what are these tricks?

      Utilize the Magic of SEO

      With an increase in quality traffic, the sales ratio will go up too. And to drive quality traffic on the website, you need to utilize the SEO tricks, and probably hire an SEO expert.

      When starting an online business site, ensure all the content on the site is optimized to rank for the right queries by target consumers. With a higher rank on the SERP, the traffic will increase on the site.

      Advertising

      With the increase in quality traffic, it will become easier for you to convert visitors. The visitor data will help you to adjust the site performance. In brief, utilizing SEO will open the doors to a lot of possibilities for your small online business ideas.[2]

      Entice With Free Value

      Consumers today have lots of options to choose from. And keeping all that in mind, it will be wise to create a business plan for an online startup that provides free value to the users before asking them to buy something.

      Consumers want to buy from someone who knows what they are doing, especially in the case of a curated service or goods provider. And that’s why to turn the profitable online business ideas even more effective, you need to start offering free value on the site, with free products and content.

      Having a blog is also another way of displaying your expertise. With specialized content on the industry, you can easily grab the attention of the audience. And once assured of your knowledge on the matter, consumers will feel a lot safer about making a purchase.

      A Killer Customer Service Is Everything

      Your small online business idea needs a better service option. Using AI-based interactive features to implement better support for the global consumer base will prove to be extremely beneficial. With a 24/7 automated support channel, customers will be satisfied with your business and come back more often.

      It’s an Easy Process: All You Have to Do Is to Start

      And there it is, the simple five-step process of starting an online business that is bound to succeed. If you look closely, you’ll notice that there are not a lot of differences between creating a physical business and an online one. The main differences are only in the consumer and competitive landscape.

      While a physical store faces and caters to local competitors and consumers, the online business has to deal with the same on a global basis. So, focusing well on the global market landscape while crafting the plan will help you succeed.

      More Tips on How to Start an Online Business

      Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

      Reference

      Read Next