Networking: Using Business Cards Effectively and Becoming a Go-To Person
The promised topic for this week’s four-part series on networking for Mom It Forward is business cards…and rightly so, how can we talk about networking without talking about business cards? When used properly they are an incredibly effective networking tool that can be instrumental in the early stages of a professional relationship.
But, as I’m prepping for this guest post, my gut is telling me I need to change it up a bit. Since last week’s post on the Mingling Formula, I have had some great conversations with people asking me, “How do you get better at connecting with people so that they want to talk with you when you go to conferences or networking events?” One person asked, “How do I become the go-to person who everyone wants to talk to rather than the person who feels ignored?”
This is such a valuable question that it trumps the question of how to use business cards because if you aren’t connecting with people genuinely and having good conversations – or what I like to call creating mini-bonds – then what’s the point of getting a person’s business card?
Ways to Effectively Use Business Cards
Bottom line: No Mini-Bond = No Business Card exchange. So, instead of writing an entire post about business cards, I’ve decided to shoot a short video for Mom It Forward readers on how to use business cards effectively.
Instead, we’ll save the written words to discuss the question of how to become the go-to person who people want to connect with at events so you’ll have meaningful connections with whom to exchange business cards. This is where we need to get serious about the “Business of YOU” a.k.a. your personal brand.
By default, you already have one. Your personality, your actions, your approach to interacting with others and your appearance are just some of the elements that contribute to your personal brand and can make or break your networking success.
Usually when people talk about “brands” they start posting well-known corporate logos like Coca Cola, Starbucks and Wal-Mart. Looking at these brands and trying to apply them to a personal brand is just not relatable – unless of course you plan to spend millions of dollars on brand development and growth.
The lesson we can learn from the big brands is the simplicity at the core of brand development – ensuring that what people see, hear, and feel when they interact with you is on point for what you want it to be.
If you’re finding that people are not reaching out to you at networking functions, then it’s time to go to the drawing board and ask yourself the self-awareness question, “What would it be like to meet me?”
In answering this question you can gain some insight into what others see, hear and feel when they interact with you as well as why, or why not, they’ll spend time with you over the hundred other people in the room.
Ask yourself, if I met me at a networking function – Would I want to talk with me? Would I like me? Would I feel I was approachable? What vibe would I get? Would I be uplifted after the conversation or feel drained? Would I feel as if I was the most important person in my life at that moment, or would I feel like I was just someone to talk to until someone more important comes along? Am I standoffish? Or lack confidence?
Would I constantly be bombarded by negative news? Or feel bullied? Or feel like I need to walk on eggshells? Would my eyes be wandering or would I have solid eye contact and inviting body language? Would I feel forgotten? Would I feel like I was in a cocoon of connection? Is the impression sincere? Professional? Hurried? Frantic? Miserable? If so, consider that people don’t seek misery when they enter a room. They are attracted to the positive people, the movers & shakers who make the networking process seem easy for everyone they encounter. Do you want to be a master networker? Then do everything you can to tilt the experience of networking with you in that positive direction.
Looking at you from other’s eyes can be a very powerful exercise – and just the first step in creating a personal brand.
Steps to Develop a Personal Brand
To develop your personal brand and be sure what people see, hear and feel about you is on track, consider these steps:
- What adjectives do you want others to use to describe you in an ideal world? What do you want the experience of meeting you or working with you to be like?
- What is the current reality?
- How big is the Gap?
- What can you do to strategically close the Gap?
If there are red flags, such as being known as being moody or constantly dropping the professional ball, then find a way to recover from these negative brand descriptions and commit to changing them.
There is just so much to this idea of personal branding and making a solid, positive and welcoming impression when you’re interacting with people at events and conferences. Hopefully these questions will at least get you thinking in the right direction so you can optimize the Business of You. When you create an environment where people want to be around you at these events, then the business card exchange can just happen naturally – because the two of you will want to connect again.
What kind of system do you use to effectively collect and use business cards to your advantage? How have you defined your personal brand?
Photo courtesy of Jen Tilley.
Allison Graham worked as a receptionist during the day and a bartender at night. Thanks to learning how to network effectively in a short period of time she changed her life’s direction creating a huge network and a successful career in the media, politics, business and charitable sectors. Realizing the power of networking and being forever grateful to the people who showed her the way, Allison Graham has made it her personal mission to help others reach their true potential by teaching them practical networking strategies that actually work!
Allison Graham writes the column and blog for the London Free Press & syndicated throughout Sun Media called Getting Connected: The Art of Networking and has been featured in the Financial Post, Globe and Mail and on BNN’s MoneyTalk.
Allison authored the highly acclaimed book Business Cards to Business Relationships: How to Build the Ultimate Network (also available in Canada) that is packed with proven action steps for successful networking. For free networking tips or information on how to have Allison Graham speak at your next conference or corporate function, please visit www.elevatebiz.com. You can also follow Allison on Twitter (@AllisonDGraham) and on Facebook (facebook.com/elevatebiztraining).
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