By Phil Stella
As part of my social media strategy, I belong to a dozen business-related LinkedIn groups and regularly engage in their discussion threads. It’s a great way to learn new things, share ideas, and regularly stay connected with your LinkedIn network through the weekly activity updates.
In a recent thread, a member posted a comment encouraging people to give out their business cards all the time at networking events. Regular readers of my Connections postings know that I take the opposite point of view. So, here’s a summary of my rant in response, which I’m pleased to say generated a lot of positive reaction.
Allow me to offer a different take on business cards at networking events. I’ve been speaking on power networking strategies for more than 20 years. One of my strategies is networking with business card finesse. Simply put, I encourage networkers NOT to give their cards to anyone!
Wait for someone to ask for your card, along the lines of permission marketing. Otherwise, it’s like SPAM or junk mail.
When you engage others in conversation and conclude that you’d like to get to know them better, ask for their card so you can follow up or keep in touch. If the other person doesn’t reciprocate and ask for yours in return, then ask if you can give him or her your card. “May I give you my card?” projects a classy and uncommonly courteous image.
Frankly, when I encounter people who shove their cards in my face, I sometimes say, “No, thanks” or “How about waiting until I ask for one?” or “Why are you giving me your card?” Call that rude if you like. I prefer to call it honest and assertive.
Did you ever notice the trash containers near the food table? How many of your unrequested cards do you see in there?
I base this strategy on a lot of ongoing research and sharing of best practices with other networking pros. So, keep your cards in your pocket and out of the trash can … and never give them to anyone!
Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication Inc., where he empowers business leaders who want to communicate – and network – confidently. He is a regular contributor to Cleveland Business Connects magazine, the COSE MindSpring Networking Expert, and a popular speaker on the topic. He can be reached at 440.449.0356 and firstname.lastname@example.org
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