If you are reading this article, you are required to manage business cards. Whether you are students, entrepreneurs, freelancers or employees, you participate in several events or trade shows per year. No matter how often or purpose you visit, you always leave with many business cards.
Like you, I meet a lot of professionals. First as a student and then as an entrepreneur, I participate in many events and trade shows to develop my network and my skills for years. And like you, I always leave with their business cards. After 2 years of networking, I have accumulated a number of business cards amazing! Personally I think it's a nameless hell to manage!
Today I can talk about it in the past ("Thank God"). I have set up a business card management organization that works for me and I don't think I'm the only one who has encountered this difficulty. That's why I wrote this article to explain how I manage my business cards, my meetings and my relationships today.
1 – Everyone and anyone
When I attended events and trade shows, I approached people a little at random. I was following my feeling. I was interested in the event but I didn't really know why I was there and who the participants would be. I was talking to just about everyone and anyone.
I had my business cards in my pocket and as tradition dictates, I would conclude each conversation with an exchange of business cards. It is an inescapable ritual rooted in mores for decades. This transaction has two effects:
- The first is to show the interlocutor his interest and the establishment of potential synergies.
- The second is to move tacitly to the next step: from meeting to building a relationship.
In principle, I put all the chances on my side by talking with a lot of people. I gradually entered a category of very fashionable people who reveal themselves at events and shows, "networkers". It is a term derived from the word networking which means to build and develop its network. Networkers have a very developed network. They have exciting conversations that can last 20, 30 or even 40 minutes with exciting people. And they end each evening with a stock of a 15-year-long business card on which they scribble a few keywords to remember the outlines of their conversations.
As a young and brave "networker", I kept all the contact details of my new contacts with the fresh memory filled with very interesting exchanges! But when I got home, I put the cards in a corner of my office with the previous 150 collected last month. Error!
As a result, I lost some business cards, others were machine-getting and the ones that got away with it didn't serve me. I sometimes searched for a business card for longer than the conversation with the person in question had lasted. But more importantly, I had a hard time contacting my new contacts with a good start.
We've all been a beginner at this networking game. In a few months, business cards accumulate and are forgotten, serving too little. A method is actually necessary. And method means results because you don't build a relationship with a simple business card.
2- Setting up an organisation
Doing good networking is not as simple as it looks. With practice, it actually requires preparation, a method and a minimum of rigor to create the desired results.
Split your networking
Today, I focus on not discussing for more than 10 minutes with each person. Grégoire Chantegrel has written a great article "Achieving your goals through Networking" which perfectly explains how to prepare a networking session before a trade show or event. It also demonstrates the value of reducing the duration of interactions to multiply the number of meetings and thus potential synergies during a networking session. By applying his method, I exchange with a few people in the space of two hours. The objective is to quickly determine if there are potential synergies between our two businesses.
In the space of 10 minutes of exchange, your interlocutor gives you a lot of information about his background, his current objectives and his expectations. Each discussion is full of important details. It's up to you to listen and pay attention to it because it's the details that make the difference. At the end of the 10 minutes of exchanges, you have already glimpsed potential synergies. Shorten the conversation, ask for your caller's business card and schedule an appointment to go into detailnow now.
The goal is not to retrieve any business card. Only the ones you're interested in!
If your interlocutor has nothing to bring you and you are not able to meet his needs either. It doesn't matter. Thank him for this exchange and continue with a new person.
Now that you only have "quality" business cards. It is very important to remember the details that added value to your meeting. Unless you have a foolproof elephant memory, you need to equip yourself with tools to help you in your networking. You can walk around with a notebook and a pencil but as a generation Y kid, my first instinct was to turn to technology.
Use the right tools for you
Like those around you, you're probably using tools like Excel, your phone contact manager or business card scanning apps.
I tried every one of them. Excel and my phone's contact manager were not very suitable and hard-working enough. As for the applications, there are many to ocede business cards and no longer bother with these little pieces of paper. Unfortunately, they do not incorporate any relationship-tracking management of these new contacts. Whether your business cards are in a desk drawer or in an app, the result remains the same.
How can you easily keep contact information while remembering the details of a conversation and having access to it at all times?
Not finding an existing solution to this problem. I and a friend created a simple mobile contact list app that could be associated with notes. Very quickly, the note-contact association system proved effective.
I present the 3rd version of the application that will surely meet your need as it answered mine. It is now accompanied by a web version.
The tool is called Remembr. We wanted it to be free and ad-free to help as many people as possible. We have added new features like a business card scanner. The goal is obviously to be able to quickly create a contact during a trade show or event but also to be able to manage and develop each of these relationships afterwards.
How exactly does Remembr work?
When you make a new contact with your contact information by taking a photo of the business card, you can write notes directly in the contact sheet to remember the place of your meeting, the outlines of your conversation and most importantly details that caught your attention, potential synergies.
From experience, when I finish a conversation with someone at a trade show or event, I open Remembr. I take a minute to scan the business card and write down the outlines that I want to remember by adding a reminder so as not to forget the date of the appointment set. It allows me to free my mind and put myself in the best possible arrangements to start a new conversation.
To conclude this article, I would say that I always have a stock of business cards in one corner of my office. But I also have all my contacts in Remembr. They are therefore useful to me beyond the simple encounter. They allow me to create relationships and exploit the synergies I see at the trade shows and events In which I participate.