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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 May 22, 2019

      50 Great People To Follow On LinkedIn, No Matter Your Industry

      50 Great People To Follow On LinkedIn, No Matter Your Industry

      LinkedIn is an excellent platform to network with great people to help you in your career and businesses. However, with over 575 million people on the site, who should you follow? This list will steer you to the right people to follow, organized by categories of expertise.

      Job Search Experts

      You will likely have several jobs throughout the course of your career, and you will constantly need advice on new trends and strategies out there in the job market. Here are the LinkedIn experts who you should follow on these matters.

      1. Liz Ryan is the CEO and founder of Human Workplace. Her articles on job searching are filled with creative and colorful cartoons.

      2. Lou Adler is the author of The Essential Guide for Hiring and Getting Hired.

      3. Dr. Marla Gottschalk will help you make an impact in a new job.

      4. Hannah Morgan runs CareerSherpa.net, where she gives expert advice on job searching and how to be more visible online.

      5. Alison Doyle is the CEO and Founder of CareerToolBelt.com.

      Management Experts

      They say that people leave managers, not jobs. These experts in LinkedIn will help you become your employees’ dream manager.

      6. Jeff Weiner. How can we leave out the CEO of LinkedIn himself?

      7. Nozomi Morgan is an executive coach. She can help you transition from a boss to a true leader.

      8. Mickey Mikitani is the CEO of Rakuten. He constantly shares his expertise in managing a global player in e-commerce platforms.

      9. Andreas von der Heydt was the head of Amazon’s Kindle Content and now the Director of Talent Acquisition. He has extensive experience in management, branding, and marketing.

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      Productivity Experts

      By maximizing your productivity, you can win in all aspects of life. The following LinkedIn experts will help you win big in your career.

      10. Gretchen Rubin is a happiness coach and the bestselling author of the The Happiness Project.

      11. Carson Tate is the founder of Working Simply. She advises us to include play in our schedules.

      12. Greg Mckeown is an essentialist. Part of being an essentialist is saying no to many things so that we can focus on the things that matter.

      13. Brian de Haaff, CEO of Aha! Labs Inc. provides strategies on how to be productive and happy at work at the same time.

      Marketing Experts

      14. Sujan Patel is VP of Marketing at When I Work, an employee scheduling software. He is an expert in content marketing and he even shares his ideas on content marketing in 2020.

      15. Megan Berry is the Head of Product Development at Rebelmouse, a content marketing and AlwaysOn powerhouse.

      16. Sean Gardner will help you navigate the social media landscape. This includes how to use different platforms to help accelerate your career. He is also the bestselling author of The Road to Social Media Success.

      17. Christel Quek is an digital and marketing expert. She is the VP of South East Asia at Brandwatch. Their products help businesses utilize social media data to make better business decisions.

      18. Jeff Bullas is a digital marketing expert. His blog has over 4 million readers annually.

      19. Michael Stelzer is the CEO and Founder of social media powerhouse site, Social Media Examiner.

      20. If you’re looking for inbound and content marketing expertise, follow Dharmesh Shah, Founder and CTO of Hubspot.

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      21. David Edelman is a McKinsey partner and is at the helm of the Digital Marketing Strategy Practice Department.

      22. Dave Kerpen leads the social media software company Likeable Local. He is the author of Likeable Social Media: How to delight your customers.

      23. Clara Shih is the CEO of Hearsay Social and the author of The Facebook Era.

      24. Aaron Lee is Grand Master of Customer Delight at Post Planner. He is an excellent resource for everything social media.

      25. David Sable is the CEO of Y&R, one of the largest advertising firms in the world.

      26. Content marketing trumps traditional marketing these days, and who else better to lead you in this area than Joe Pulizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute.

      Personal Branding Experts

      Part of what we market in our personal career is our brand. When people hear your name, what kind of brand comes into their mind? What traits and qualities do they associate with you?

      Here are some personal branding experts from LinkedIn to improve your own brand.

      27. Dorie Clark is the author of Stand Out and Reinventing You. He can help you craft the professional image you’ve always wanted.

      28. Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding. If you’re a millennial, Dan is the guy to help you craft your personal brand.

      Other Notable Experts to Follow

      29. Lisa Gates is the expert to follow if you’re negotiating for higher salaries and promotions.

      30. If you’re a Baby Boomer, Marc Miller will help you navigate the continually changing landscape of the workplace.

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      31. To avoid getting your resumé moved to the “No” pile, read Paul Freiberger’s excellent advice.

      32. James Caan provides insightful ideas on careers in general. He is also a serial entrepreneur.

      33. Jeff Haden writes on various topics, such as leadership and management. He is the owner of Blackbird Media.

      34. If you’re looking for expert business advice on getting new customers and keeping them, follow Jay Baer.

      35. Suzanne Lucas, aka Evil HR Lady, is a great human resources specialist.

      36. If you need help in using Twitter to boost your career, Claire Diaz-Ortiz can guide you in the right direction.

      37. Ryan Holmes is the CEO of Hootsuite, a social media management tool.

      38. Customers are the lifeblood of a business and Colin Shaw focuses on revolutionizing this customer experience.

      39. Brian Solis often reflects on the future of business and how technology can disrupt our world.

      40. Nancy Lublin provides advice on more lighthearted topics, which are perfect after a long day’s work. She is the CEO behind Dosomething.org, a portal designed for social change; and the founder & CEO of Loris.ai and Crisis Text Line.

      41. Katya Andresen provides advice on how to manage your career. She was the CEO of Cricket Media and now responsible for the SVP Card Customer Experience at Capital One.

      42. Gallup has created a system to test what your strengths are and how to use them at work. Jim Clifton is the CEO of Gallup.

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      43. Adam Grant is a Wharton Professor and the author of Give and Take, which provides advice on why being helpful at work can accelerate your career.

      44. Hunter Walk is a partner at Homebrew Venture Capitalist Company and has specialty in product development and management.

      45. If you’re running a nonprofit organization, follow Beth Kanter for expert advice on this area.

      46. Emotional Intelligence is necessary to succeed in your career, and Daniel Goleman is your expert for that.

      47. Rita J. King connects science, technology and business.

      48. Tori Worthington Rose is a Creative Director at Mary Beth West Communications, LLC. She has extensive experience in sales and digital media.

      49. If you’re looking for some advice on how to use writing and personal content marketing to boost your career, follow Ann Handley.

      50. Tim Brown is the CEO at IDEO and shares his insights on Leadership and Creativity.

      These are just some of the key thought leaders and movers in various industries. They will provide you with constant inspiration, as well as the willpower to pursue the career that you’ve always wanted. Their stream of expert ideas in their respective fields will help you become well-equipped in your professional pursuits.

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