Relationships Article – Making Professional Connections

Your 2″x31/2” Business Ambassador

Attractive and attention-grabbing business cards, distributed with a flair, help individuals and organizations gain recognition and respect.

This doesn’t apply merely to usual card-carriers – like those in sales and upper management. Everybody should have a card to hand to a new business contact. Regardless of the occupation, those with enough pride in his or her job to have a business card will be accorded more respectful treatment than a peer without a card.

And if you aren’t employed – that goes triple. Have a card ready that identifies two or three of your outstanding skills and most marketable competencies, and provides your contact information.

With you every time

Never leave home or office without your cards. Professional relationships are off to a limping start with the words, “Gee, I’m out of cards,” which silently translates to “I didn’t care enough about meeting you to prepare.”

Display

Always have a supply of clean business cards in an attractive holder on your desk or counter.  Personally hand one to every new visitor with the words, “In case you think of something else I might do for you.”

Presentation

Deliver every card with a smile and an enthusiastic voice. Tell them why you’d like for them to contact you and what you’ll do for them. You’re handing them a working resource, not a tired obligation to add to their ‘to file’ pile.

Receiving Cards

When accepting business cards from others, look at the card. Read the name to yourself because that’ll take enough time to demonstrate that you aren’t discounting them with a cursory glance. If there’s a company motto or something to set them apart, read that aloud with an appreciative tone. If you’re promising a follow-up result, take a moment right then to make a note about what you will do. By saying it out loud as you write, you invite additional comment that might make your follow-up actions even more valuable. When you put the card away, they are more invested in your new relationship if they witness you place it into your wallet than if they see you stuff it into a pocket.

Readable

Make sure the type on your business card is large enough and has enough contrast to be easily readable by people with less than perfect vision. Use a clean typeface – sans serif is recommended. Script squished onto a business card looks like scribbles and doesn’t deliver an impression of neatness and organization. Remember that many decision makers may be experiencing diminishing eyesight.

Appearance

It’s a challenge to be noticed. Most standard format cards go from hand-to-pocket-to-drawer without being noticed. Cards with unique design elements such as dye-cut, see-through windows, fold-overs, and full color are expensive, but grab attention. Other ways to ‘break the mold’ of standard-size business cards and stand out in the crowd include designing and using different formats, such as a post card, greeting card, or bookmark. It keeps the card from being tossed into the same bin with the hoi polloi of cards, but it runs the risk of landing in the trash because some people won’t know where to keep such an odd entry.

Content

Contact information must be displayed so that it can easily be found. A business motto, powerful quote, or surprising fact can move a card to the upper echelon of card representation.

Prime Purpose

Getting vital information and exciting optional data on a card without making it an ugly mass of tiny type is a challenge. The most important message on a business card is “What can I do for you?” That is, what service can the organization or individual provide for the person who has just been handed a card? Minimal information and contact data serve a purpose; too much information lands in the waste basket.

Business cards are note cards, appointment cards, reminders, and vital data collectors, so they must have some blank area where both distributors and collectors can write critical information.

Electronic Cards

Going paperless is a modern adaptation to the business card game. Technologically saavy networkers can deliver and accept business cards with a quick kiss of cell phones, exchanging info without having to enter it in your respective computers.

In the Mail

Enclose your business card when mailing to others – even bill payments. It lends an air of professionalism and may sometimes help the recipient clarify how to handle your correspondence. When sending a card instead of handing it directly to somebody, it adds a personal touch to handwrite a short message to anchor your connection.

Plan Ahead

Don’t wait to run out of cards before reordering. Put a colored tab about a month from the end of your supply and submit your refill order when you hit that warning. Is there a frequent question you are asked after you give somebody your card? This is a good time to update your message.

Include All Team Members

Every role in an organization will occasionally have the need for a business card. Even if 98% of the cards distributed by an individual are mere introductions that have no direct link to the sales/delivery function of an organization, there’s still an image-building factor that returns value.

Buy Your Own

If your organization doesn’t supply business cards or thinks your position doesn’t really need them, spring for them from your own budget. It puts you in the category of a professional who understands that you represent your organization 24/7, and you stand tall and proud when you give somebody your organizational business card. A handful of unsophisticated colleagues may snicker at your presumptuousness, but those who look for team members who know how to represent their team and themselves will appreciate your commitment. Showing that you care may become a rung on the ladder to a position that requires business cards.

Personal Tag Line

Just as a business has a better image when it’s supported by a positive slogan, so does each individual! An identifying slogan on your card goes deeper and lasts longer than a mere job title. Be proud, be creative, and be outrageous. ‘Nobody does quality better.’ ~ ‘The solution machine.’ ~ ‘I’ll take you higher!’

Don’t Let Card Die

The impact of your card is increased tenfold when you follow up. A quick note letting them know you enjoyed meeting them and referencing your conversation takes you out of the crowd and puts you on the main stage. Don’t settle for just a piece of paper if you know immediately that this is somebody with whom you want to establish a relationship. Take out your cell phone and say, “Let me put your number into my cell phone. I’d like to talk to you when we can really focus. Would tomorrow at 2 pm be convenient?”

 From Gregory Lay’s Accidental Career blog.