My not-so-wild guess is that calling cards were invented during the time when people realized that they cannot anymore scramble for pen and paper whenever they need to leave their contact information to someone. Practically, calling cards are just sheets of paper where someone’s details are printed upon and readily available in times of need.
|"When giving calling cards, give them with both hands."|
Calling cards are the first social networking tools, don’t you think? Calling cards contain our names, companies, designations, addresses, contact numbers and email addresses. How are calling cards different from Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media touchpoints? I say, the latters are glorified calling cards.
Offline social networking touchpoints
For as long as we live, calling cards will always be our best offline social networking touchpoints (aside from our warm bodies). I couldn’t emphasize to you enough how important these sheets of paper are so I am just going to share with you how to get the most out of them.
1. Have one.
You need one. This one is self-explanatory especially if you are in a business with the need to connect with people. These jobs include Account Executive, Business Development, Sales and the like. If you want your network to connect with you via social media, consider placing your social media touchpoints too such as your Facebook Page, LinkedIn, Twitter, website and etc.
2. Get a sleek-looking case for added protection and plus points for your looks.
During networking events and you have to make a good impression, consider getting a sleek-looking case for your cards. When it’s time to pull out your cards, pretend for a second that you’re James Bond and flip open the case like a boss. These tactics along with the others that you have in mind won’t replace real professionalism inside though. Be sure to bring this virtue with you anywhere.
3. Remember the calling card etiquette.
Match the professionalism inside you with some calling card etiquette. When giving calling cards, remember to give them with both hands. And when you receive, look at the card for a while before you keep it.
4. Join networking events.
You need calling cards? Swim in a sea of it during networking events. You will see the schedules of upcoming events on the websites of your favorite event venues. Learn how to choose the right event to go to based on your target market.
5. Get a bag for collected calling cards during networking events.
Calling cards are gold mines for people who need to acquire new clients and generate leads. Make sure that you bring with you a bag where you can place them whenever you attend networking events.
6. Write keywords at the back of calling cards to easily remember your new-found contact.
Unless you are gifted with photographic memory, you need to write keywords at the back of your calling cards so that you’ll be able to remember your new-found contact. For example, you have met someone who turned out to be a professor of one of your colleagues, you can write at the back of the card the name of your colleague and the word “professor”. In the future, it will be easy for you to remember the person behind the calling card. Upon saying this, it is also helpful to note that your calling cards should be made of paper with writeable surface. Avoid the fancy of printing it on glossy papers, which are more costly and unnecessary.
7. Encode the calling cards using Google Form.
Encoding the calling cards is about having a back-up for all the data that you have gathered in case you lose the cards. It will also make it easier for you to email your contacts when you need to since the email addresses are already encoded. Also, it will help you keep an organized database that you can share anytime, anywhere. Lastly, since you’ll just be encoding the important details that you need, retrieving the data in the future is much easier and faster.
In the event that your contact ran out of calling cards or failed to bring one during networking events, make sure that you have brought with you a sign-up sheet. In the sheet, ask for their name, company, designation, e-mail and mobile number. Also, leave a space for your remarks or notes. This one is very important because among the many contacts you will meet, you will never remember each one of them when you revisit the sheet. Make sure that you also check their contact information after writing because not everyone writes legibly. You can also use a laptop instead of a sign-up sheet but more people prefer writing than typing during networking events. Also fish bowls for collecting calling cards are still very effective. You can creatively use freebies as incentives for your contacts to drop their calling cards in the fish bowl.
Mark Delgado is a Certified Blog and Social Media Entrepreneur (CBSME) who is passionate about consultative works, creative writing, events management, ideation, startupreneurship, strategic marketing and training. He founded Mediactiv8, an independent social media marketing agency that advocates digital marketing education and entrepreneurship in the Philippines. To see more of his works, please check out www.facebook.com/Mediactiv8.