There they are. The most eye-catching business cards you’ve ever seen, and they have your name on them. So, what do you do with them? Networking with your business card is one of the most cost effective means of marketing you, your business and your product or services. More than any other tool in your marketing bag of tricks, your business card is how potential clients remind themselves why doing business with you is a good idea.

Your business card is a mini advertisement for your company and it has to be seen to be effective.

Check out these 10 steps to put you on the path to business card righteousness:

Keep Your Business Cards Close

Don’t leave home without your business cards! They should be close to hand and ready to use when the moment presents itself. Your cards should part of your daily routine before leaving home. When checking for your wallet and keys, check for a stack of business cards, too. Keep replenishing your supply.

Places to keep business cards:

• Coat pocket
• Car
• Wallet
• Briefcase
• Laptop bag
• Desk drawer
• Gym bag
• Wife’s purse
• Secretary’s desk

Look After Them

When handing your card to a potential client, taking it from a stylish business card case looks more professional and business like. Shop around and you’ll find plenty of card case designs to choose from.

When you are given another person’s card, remember there are certain etiquettes to follow. Don’t just take it and shove it in your pocket. Look at the card for a few seconds. Make that person feel important. Write a few comments on the card like the date, location where you met and some common points of interest. They will be useful when following up with that person (and you will, otherwise why take that card?). These simple steps show that you have an interest in that other person and business. Then place the card in your wallet.

Places To Leave Your Business Card

Strategically leave your business cards anywhere your potential customers will see them, take them, and hopefully call you to discover more about your product or services. Printing is relatively cheap, so you can leave hundreds of cards in your targeted areas for a relatively low expense.

Where to leave your business cards:

• Chamber of Commerce card rack
• Libraries and bookstores
• Trade show booths
• Public bulletin boards
• Restaurants and bars
• Barber shop
• Coffee shops
• Doctors’ waiting rooms
• College bulletin boards
• Your bank; network with employees and managers who’ll promote your services

Include Cards With Your Correspondence

Include a business card with every letter and thank you note you mail out, even when you pay bills. If you ship products, include a card with every package.

You should include your contact information in your e-mail signature as this will act as an electronic business card.

Give A Reason To Hold On To Your Card

Put something unique on the back of your business card – a calendar, a mileage-destination chart, a list of your services, important measurements, conversion tables or anything relevant to your industry. Try printing a coupon on it and ask the prospective clients to return the card with their order. Give a reason to keep your card.

Following Up

After each networking event at which you’ve collected cards (and added notes to on the back) take a moment to go through the cards. Decide how each connection can assist you and how you can assist them. When this has been done, contact that person and begin to nurture that relationship.

Invest In New Cards

If you haven’t ordered a supply of new business cards within the past two years, there’s a strong chance the information is out of date. Also, if your previous business card order was for 1,000 cards and you still have 999 left in the box, ask yourself why. Don’t you like them? If that’s the reason, get rid of them and use a card you’re proud to distribute.

Make It Captivating

Most business card designs use the same format. This isn’t exactly memorable if you’re at a networking event and get dozens of them. Be different, design your own business card and make it personal. The more personality it shows, the better. It will be memorable to future connections when they sift through their pile of potential contacts.

Ask For Referrals

When giving someone your business card, they often feel more comfortable when you say, “I would appreciate a referral, if you know anyone that could use my services”. This approach is gentler than asking, “Is your company hiring?” People like to help others. Asking “Could you do me a favor by referring my services?” can put you in a better position. They’ll feel better about helping you.

Convert To Digital

Add the data found on someone’s card into a spreadsheet or digital address book, including these elements:

• Full name
• Gender
• Company
• Position
• Phone (landline or mobile)
• E- mail
• Address
• Corporate website
• Personal blog / website
• Photo where possible
• Note on when and where you met
• Notes on card

When giving out your business cards, the main point to remember is what an effective networking and marketing tool it is. Take the fullest advantage possible of its potential, and don’t leave home without them.

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