What to do with the business cards you collect?
from our Sunday reading series - a weekly blog post (subscribe here)
I have a confession to make: It was many years after being known as a ‘networker’ that I worked out what to do with business cards. I don’t mean how to keyword a database, connect on social media or follow up. I’m talking about the physical cards themselves.
I, like most of you, am a visual person, so filing away the details in a database, neatly keyworded and the like, doesn’t totally work for me. I’m not saying don’t do that, mind, because making a contacts database is important for a growing network*. So how can you make a growing list of contacts discoverable from a visual perspective?
Some people still get away with using desktop card indexes, otherwise known as ‘Rolodexes.’ Yet for many, they’re not large enough and/or don’t suit for other reasons, varying from a dislike of alphabetical ordering to finding them physically cumbersome to use.
Moreover, to be honest, the majority of us have stacks of business cards stashed away in boxes or desk drawers. I recall feeling immensely organised when I had mini-stacks or cards bundled together with rubber bands, each labelled on top with a note that stated the associated event and approximate date. Numerous such bundles lived in an increasingly jam-packed box. They were never to see the light of day again.
The useful life of collected business cards changed the day I started my first business card book, and I’ve never looked back since…
Here’s the method: Take an exercise book (or similar) with blank pages, staple cards into the pages as time goes and jot down notes (ASAP). As a result, you end up with books that go in chronological order. Thus, if you want to find a contact you made at a certain event, you go to the book of business cards that contains contacts from that occasion.
One time when I was looking for a meeting spot in New York City, all I needed do was scan associated pages from the most recent trips to the States. I knew that I’d found an ideal place in SoHo, yet the details had not yet been added to the database. Easy peasy! The card for a luscious meeting location was easy to find, thanks to fancy purple font and my handwritten note.
Better yet, business card books can be digitised and backed up. Simply scan the pages (and back up the scan) as soon as a book is complete. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, providing you have access to the files, you can easily have a visual flick through business card books whenever the need arises.
It’s incredible who comes to mind as a result of business card books. From remembering who to personally invite to special occasions to being reminded of people with whom you should reconnect, the impact of employing this technique is without question.
*In today’s world, it’s common to use #hashtags for keywording, for example associating contacts to an event where you met them, artists / art works of interest, type of contact and so on.
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