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The Business Card Game

The Business Card Game

First of all, if you’re going to attend an event, have business cards that give people a way to contact you. If you’re not going as a representative of your current day job, make your own cards, and put your own sites and links and contact information on them. But then what? Or maybe you’re still stuck on “why?” questions. Let’s talk it over.

  • Cards are Good Conversation Starters– If your card isn’t plain white or doesn’t look like you used a built in MS Word template, people will often look at your card the way one looks at a four-year-old’s rendition of a fire truck. “Ohhh, this is gooood.” They nod as they say this. People want to acknowledge you and what your card says you do. It’s almost a ritual thing.
  • Cards are Reminders– When you get back from the conference, you’ll fish in your pocket and take that new stack of cards out. You now have X number of new contacts that either seemed interesting, cared about what you were doing, or were looking to use your product, service, brains, whatever.

USE THE CARDS

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Let’s talk for a minute. Once you get back from a conference, kiss your significant other. Thank him or her for giving you this opportunity to explore your passion or your vocation or whatever it is that pays the bills. Kiss the kids, pet the gerbil, whatever. And then, march over to your computer and compose some email.

Send “Nice Seeing You at BarCamp Boston” emails to people, with clear subject lines, and then inside, start with telling them who you are again (you ALL met lots of people, right?), what you had to talk about then — and here, include something personal that you learned during the event. Did he mention his four year old daughter? Ask if she was still awake when he got home.

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Finish this email with whatever “call to action” you’re hoping for. Even if that’s, “I hope we can talk more in the future about Spaceship construction,” make sure you’ve got some snip in there that gets them wanting to hit reply, and wanting to continue the relationship.

  • File the Cards– My current method of filing cards from events is that I gather them all in a binder clip and then toss them in a drawer. But here are a few ideas/hacks to consider: what if you ‘ranked’ the cards in order of people you most want to follow up with, all the way down to people you took a card from because it was polite to do so? Wouldn’t that help you remember what mattered, and with whom you should definitely follow up?

    Second, write on the backs of them a reminder or two about what you talked about. You remember NOW, but will you in seven months? How will you remember after the third conference in a row? Put something on the card to remind yourself what went down.

  • What about Scanning?– Fine by me, but unless the scan does OCR and gives me instant contact list addings, I don’t feel like doing the work. Neither do I like using those pages for planners that let you neatly align the cards. I never USE cards that way. I tend to shuffle through them because that’s what I like. I like the feel of shuffling cards that reflect people who are interesting, helpful, customers, etc.
  • Why the Binder Clip Method?– I like the binder clip because it gives instant CONTEXT to the cards. It’s all the people I met at BarCamp Boston, and not all the people who are DBAs. Why? My personal organizational take is that I’ll need some context to remember which DBA it was that knew something about MySQL to Oracle porting. Oh yeah, I met her at Podcast Academy. Right?
  • Revisit Cards– Set a reminder for a month or two after an event to review the cards you collected at the event. This will give you a chance to rekindle anything worth moving forward on that you didn’t/couldn’t finish the first time you sent mail.

    If you’re going to bother attending shows, please realize the meta purposes for being there. You have a few missions all snuck into one event:

    1.) Learn new things.
    2.) Meet new people.
    3.) Make connections.
    4.) Develop business or other types of partnerships.
    5.) Make friends.

    Cards can help with a few of those, if only as props and a way to move conversations forward. The cards end up serving as a micro billboard for what you did, why you attended, and who you met. And they may just be a great start to a new story of your life.

    –Chris Brogan collected and and sent email to dozens of new business cards today. He gave everyone a bright cosmic orange card back that pointed people to GrasshopperFactory.com.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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