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How not to network: business cards


I recently attended a local micro-mixer (that's what I call a last-minute networking op disguised as a promotional event, usually at a bar) and chatted up an attendee about the promo: is she a Chamber member, what's her biz - the usual talking points.

She was a little gruff about the Chamber and proudly extolled its missing virtues and why she's not a member, blah blah. She publishes a small regional magazine and I asked her about its online presence, layout, adverts, etc. I had checked out the rag earlier and was hardly impressed design-wise, but perhaps it had its merits with content and readership.

Wrapping up the conversation, I asked to exchanged cards to add her as a contact should I connect with a prospective advertiser, and she promptly admitted that she never carries her cards, and rarely accepts them because SHE JUST THROWS THEM AWAY. Suddenly sheepish, I replied, "I've got 1,000's of these so I don't mind giving you one anyway." She whipped out one of those little spiral memo books, tattered and nearly out of sheets, jotted down her email address, ripped off the sheet and handed it to me. Of course the handwriting was nearly illegible but I managed to extract the details and typed it right into my phone, right in front of her.


Always carry a handful of cards - and I mean HANDFUL

Keep a couple in your wallet, briefcase, pocket, backpack, phone skin. You never know when that impromptu conversation, lead, or referral will present itself.

Ask to exchange cards

Actually look at the card and study it for a few seconds, rather than immediately pocketing it. If the card itself is interesting, comment on it. And if you're a creative at any level or in any field, its a no-brainer to make sure YOUR cards are interesting.

Jot something about the person on the back of the card

Where you met them or something to remember them by, like a handlebar mustache, mutual connection, or rawkin' laptop bag.

After the event

While the cards are still warm, get the contact info into your address book. Many applications have options to tag (#) a contact with relevant keywords like #chamber, #copywriter, or #howconference.

Follow up

Send a brief email rekindling the meeting, even if you think it won't lead anywhere business-wise. That cold lead may know of a sizzling hot one next week.

Add/invite them to your network

If you didn't do so in person, ask if you can add them your your social and/or business network like Linked In, Biznik, Facebook, and Twitter.


Maybe we don't really need to haul around reams of business cards thanks to instant capture on our mobile devices, but to state that one just tosses them as useless contacts is hard to imagine. The attitude alone convinced me that I will likely never call on her, but I followed up anyway because that's what I do. She never got back to me...

It's a small, small world, fellow networker. Why are you even at this event?


  • Alexis Jenny Pittsburgh Animal Health Examiner 5 years ago

    Great advice. So many people freelance regardless of their field. As times get more financially challenging, networking also takes more effort.