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, first 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.
Networking Group Meetings
I attended several group meetings as a guest. At one meeting, I introduced myself to the group and handed out my business cards. Later that day I sent a follow up email to everyone 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 – 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 group email list, save me some typing. He said sure. In return, I offered to buy him lunch, 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 the most probable reason was the second group “expected” a communication from me (pseudo-permission to send the email). The first group had no expectations, fewer opened the email, and no one sent a reply.
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.
Submitted by Greg Magnus
www.eoecho.com “Strategic minds with knowledge; will travel.”
“Business Networking Organizations – Should You Pay to Join?”
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PS: Bob Bly at Early to Rise has My Anti-Business-Card Approach to Self-Promotion