Are your business cards up to the networking challenge?

Your business card is a key tool in these situations, but just having a business card (and believe me there are many people who turn up and don’t have any with them) is not necessarily making the most of this opportunity.

Rule number #1 – have enough cards to hand out

Find out how many people are liklely to be at the event and make sure you have enough cards. You would be amazed at how many events I attend wand meet people who have either no cards with them or have run out. They aren’t making money for you sitting in a desk drawer so make sure you have plenty annd keep them in the various bags and jacket pockers you use so you always have them to hand.

#2   Have your cards professionally designed and printed

Flimsy cards with naff clip art graphics will not do you any justice, even if you are a very small business. The cost of producing business cards, especially with digital print technology, is making it accessible to all businesses. I would recommend a 400gsm card is used and look at finsishes such as matt lamination, embossing or spot UV varnsih to give it real impact.

#3   Make sure you have a businesslike email address.

This is a pet hate of mine. If you have a business you should have a domain, even if you don’t have a website yet, you can purchase a domain for a few pounds from someone such as 123.reg and once you have your domain you can have a relevant email address myname@ set up (just talk to a web company or IT specialist to do this). Please no more

Now business cards have two main purposes – firstly to allow people to contact you. This is mainly what business cards in corporate environments are used for – it will have your direct dial number, email address and possibly mobile number. You will give it out to people you know and who you want to be able to contact you. It is the second purpose, however, that I am interested in – using business cards as mini marketing messages that promote you and your business. This is what business cards are used for in a networking situation.

Which reminds me of one of my favourite quotes which I believe is from the forthright Lord Sugar… when faced with a single sided leaflet his response was “What’s all the **@#!! white space on the back, I’ve paid for that?”

#4 Use the reverse of your business card it to tell people what you do.

Either simple bullet points or as a statement. When talking to someone you can then use as a visual aid, pointing out the relevant service whilst also showing everything else you do. It also means that once you have gone and people are looking through their pocketful of cards they have collected they don’t have to try and remember what MyCompany does because it will tell them on the back. You can add in web and social media links that enable people to easily find out more about your business.

#5   Add a quirky and personal statement.

On my cards I have alternative statements. One says ‘Call Me’ which I use when I am handing cards out to prospects and clients and the ones I use for networking say ‘Would love to meet you’. Again it helps make your cards and you stand out from the crowd.

#6 Help people by leaving space to write.

Most people use business cards at networking events to write a little note about the person and what you have talked about. Again it helps them remember who they have spoken to and how they should follow up. If your card is made from some unusual material such as plastic or metal, this is impossible. If your card has very heavy graphics it can also be difficult. For serious networkers, what about having cards that have a designated area in the reverse for notes?

#7 Once size doesn’t have to fit all.

With digital print making short runs more financially viable, why not have different cards aimed at different target audiences? If you attend events attended by SME businesses or industry specific events you could have cards with different backs that are relevant to each audience.

#8 Use to promote events or offers.

Along a similar vein, why not have short run reprints so you can promote special offers or promotions on the reverse of your card. You can then change or rotate these monthly or quarterly.

#9 Everyone likes an offer.

Finally, most businesses offer promotions for new customers, even if it is a free no-obligation initial meeting, so what about having your new customer offer on the reverse of your networking business cards.

I hope this has given you lots of ideas of how to use these small pieces of card to better effect.