What Does Your Business Card Say About You?

A business card might only be a few inches of cardstock, but that small piece of ink and paper plays a critical role in business networking. It’s this card that you leave behind to remind someone that they met you and that you are someone worthy of their time and connection – but it’s also small enough to fit in one’s palm, meaning you’re pretty limited by space with what you can say.Â

How do you develop a catchy business card that sums up the essence of YOU? Here are some ways to make an impression with the right information:

  • Less is more – Intrigue is everything, according to message expert Laura Allen of thepitchgirl.com. “My basic rule of thumb is, ‘clear and concise equals cash; vague and verbose equals trash,’” Allen said.
  • Be catchy – Coming up with a compelling catchphrase is the best way to make an impact that will draw the receiver in. “If I meet 40 people at a conference, I don’t have time to go back and look at their resumes,” she said. “But if somebody gives me their business card and the front of it says, ‘closed a $5.5 million deal from a cold call,’ … that’s something worth following through on.”
  • Be concise – While you should have a good message, make sure to keep it short. “It’s all about filtering down to the most important point,” Allen said. “You take the 15-second pitch — four sentences — and make that even smaller.”
  • Looks are everything – Remember, business cards are visual – much more so than a resume of LinkedIn profile. Therefore, rules of good design apply: using graphics to tell a story, paying attention to color theory (particularly the emotional responses attached to the hues you choose), and embracing white space as your friend. The most successful advertising campaigns often include iconography. You don’t necessarily need a logo on par with Volkswagen or Pepsi to make an impact, but do try to determine a visual brand that ties in with what you’d like to be known for the most.
  • Go pro – Just as design matters, production is important for a quality business card. Don’t buy a packet of cardstock and print these off at home! There are countless design and printing vendors online who can create professional business cards for a great price. Start with a small quantity at first – this will allow you to adapt your card as you feel out how effective the first model is.

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Take time to look at the business cards you’ve received. Which do you like? What is it about these cards that speaks to you? Spending time to deconstruct what people have done well (or not) in the past will help you create a winning business card that leaves the right impression with those you come across while you network your way to success.

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Creating Quality Connections

Picture this scene: You’re at the birthday party of a friend you regard highly. The friend is someone you crossed paths with years ago, and you currently have few mutual connections, which means the party is filled with people you don’t know – but who come pre-approved to a degree, if they gained this friend’s friendship. While grabbing another drink, your ear catches a snippet of conversation. A friend of this friend is talking about a subject you’re passionate about, and you’re impressed. This is someone you’d like to get to know. Do you step in and start sharing all the information you have on the topic?Â

In a social setting, you wouldn’t walk into a conversation and immediately dominate it or flash your smarts – at least, not if you’re trying to be socially adept and establish real connections. Rather, you’re more likely to ask questions and to learn what this interesting individual has to say first. After all, connection is a two-way street – if you want this person to value what you have to say, you have to be authentic and show that you value him or her first.Â

The same rules apply to business networking: focus first on connection before sales, whether the object you’re selling is yourself as a worthy contact or a good or service that puts bread on your table. Dr. Ivan Misner, founder of Business Networking International (BNI), shared on his blog about attending a networking event once and asking the attendees how many of them had come in the hopes of making a sale or doing business? Half of the audience raised its hands. However, when Misner asked the same crowd how many had come with the intention of buying something, not a single hand went up.Â

Misner called this a “networking disconnect.” The standard practice of networking too often focuses on selling instead of connecting. He refers to it as hunting – moving in on a specific prey in a single moment – when true networking is about farming, cultivating relationships with patience and care. Down the road, these relationships are likely to lead to business leads, but the connections are the focus, not the sales.

Here are four ways to cultivate that relationship for a quality connection:

  • Find out what is of value to your desired contact.
  • Determine what you can offer in the way of adding relevant value to that person.
  • Figure out how to deliver that value in a genuine, meaningful way.
  • Keep connected through periodic contact that centers on adding more value to him or her, whether of a personal or professional nature.

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