Networking Strategy – Just Say No to Business Cards

People spend far too much time fussing over their business cards. One-sided or two, picture or no picture, what format, and the list goes on. The fact is most business cards are thrown away and you need a better strategy to get what you really want for your time – new clients.

Here’s a simple strategy to increase sales and maximize your networking ROI. JUST SAY NO when someone asks for your business card. Stay with me, I tested this strategy while conducting research for an article, “Business Networking Organizations – Should You Pay to Join?”

If you plan to join a networking group, like BNI for example, you first need to prepare a marketing plan and budget. Your costs are far greater than the joining fee. Marketing strategies such as the one below will help you close more clients and maximize your networking ROI.

I attended several group meetings as a guest. At one meeting, I introduced myself during the introduction session and handed out my business cards. Later that day I sent a follow up email to everyone at the meeting using email-tracking software. I tracked open rates, links, and the number of replies.

At a second meeting – same organization, different group about the same size as the first group – I introduced myself then said, “I don’t have any more business cards with me.” The eyes rolled. Then I announced, “I’ll send everyone an email with my contact info so you won’t need to type it.” The expressions quickly turned to smiles.

Before sending my contact info to the second group, I called the group member I felt was the most qualified prospect for my services (second marketing contact if you’re counting). I asked him if he could send me his email list for the group, save me some time typing. He said sure. In return, I offered to buy him lunch, which he accepted.

I sent the same email to the second group. The open rates and clicks were significantly greater for the meeting where I didn’t hand out business cards. I also received several reply emails from the second group – none from the first group. Why?

Several possibilities, but I think the main reason was the second group “expected” a communication from me (pseudo-permission to send the email to them). The first group had no expectations, fewer opened the email, and no one sent a reply email.

Also, not having business cards gave me a legitimate reason to call my best prospect in the group. BTW, after meeting this prospect for lunch I continued to build a relationship with him and he’s now a client.

This strategy works, but you need to be diligent with the follow-up. Give it a shot and you’ll see a better return for your networking time.