And here is my take on how to use those business cards:
A card is like a kiss
So the past few days I have been out at a number of events with networking opportunities and in each of them people have exchanged business cards. As I observed these interactions and was part of them myself, I came to the conclusion that giving someone your card is a lot like giving someone a kiss.
1. No one kisses anybody else without some sort of interaction, because it's rude- The same goes for giving out your business card. I was at one event where literally right after someone was introduced, they shoved their card in the other person's face. It was like that moment in the 80's movies when you hear the record skip. The person took the card as if it were covered in excrement. Gee, I wonder if there will be follow up there?
2. A kiss is something that should be mutual- There should be some kind of connection and a genuine interest in business before the idea of exchanging cards is introduced. You wouldn't just walk up to someone and kiss them, you'd take the time to get to know them and only when it was time, would you kiss them. The same goes for cards.
3. If someone really wants a kiss, they'll let you know- Just like someone who wants to be kissed will drop hints and lean in expectantly, your business contact will show an interest in what you are saying. They will also lean in and contribute to the conversation and most likely they will let you know. Sometimes, they will even ask for your card. This is the best of scenarios because it means they are interested in following up and you are just complying by giving out your card.
4. Kisses are special and reserved for someone special- A person's card provides the information to contact them and to follow up. If someone has a limited number of cards, they aren't going to give them up easily. They are putting trust in you that you will take that information and use it in respectful way. Recognize that and respect those who are giving you their card.
5. Kisses deserve follow up- If you kiss someone and never speak to them again, let's face it: That's pretty lousy and you're kind of a jerk. The same goes for a business card. If someone has given you the opportunity to contact them and you snub it, that's like never calling after the kiss. It's a lousy way to keep relationships intact and you may end up needing that relationship later on. Our industry is small and you do not want to be known as the person who never follows up. This is one of my pet peeves when I give out my card.
6. Never kiss and tell- Once someone gives you their card, you need to keep that information private and only share it when someone gives you permission. Otherwise, you risk damaging the relationship. Always take the time to find out what information people are comfortable with sharing and go with that.
So next time you're out networking, think about these six kiss rules before you take out that card. I'm willing to bet it will lead to more meaningful relationships in your business.
Of course you can also ignore these things and kiss some of those jobs and opportunities goodbye.