Networking: Create value with your business cards

Posted: - Modified: | connecting

Business cards are not only a good way to leave your contact
information with people, but they can be a great way to make a
memorable impression by sharing valuable tips. Here's how I made a
difference with my business cards.

I had two hours of free time before going to a networking workshop,
and I wanted to create as much value as possible for the other
attendees. The back of my business card felt like a good place to put
a takeaway message, so I pulled up my business card template and a few
sheets of perforated business cards.

Would my recent blog post about networking with nametags have been a good fit? Hmm, maybe not. It would be useful if I gave them my card before they made nametags, but I wasn't sure if I could get to everyone in time unless I volunteered to be at the reception. Besides, that kind of information is easy to absorb and remember. What could create lasting value for people?

Aha! Whenever I meet someone who wants to learn more about networking,
I run through a list of my favorite books on the topic. Why not put
*that* on my business card? That way, I could help people learn even
more about networking. So I changed the back of my business card to read:

My favorite networking books:

  • Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi
  • Work the Pond, Darcy Rezac
  • Love is the Killer App, Tim Sanders
  • How to Talk to Anyone, Leil Lowndes
  • Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty, Harvey Mackay

Then I thought, hey, what else can I do to create value for other
people? Well, I read, think, and blog a *lot* about networking and
other topics. What if I e-mail people a free networking newsletter
with tips? So I added this to the back of my business card:

Want tips, good networking resources, and upcoming
events? E-mail me at to subscribe to
my free networking newsletter!

Hey, I'll figure out how to do newsletters if people are interested.
I've got plenty of material, I know. I just have to search through my
blog and tidy up some of the articles!

I printed out thirty new business cards and headed to the event. I
handed one to the organizer, whom I knew from other tech events.
Whenever I got people's contact information in order to send them
something or to continue a conversation, I gave them a business card.
I didn't call attention to the back; it was just there.

The perfect opportunity to mention the business card came up during
the networking workshop, though. Alex Sirota
mentioned the idea of interdependence and networking, and one of the
books on my list has a very good description of how networking can
help you reach out to others. I told him (and thus everyone) that on
the back of my business card is a list of my favorite networking
books, and book 3 – Love is the Killer App – has a great description
of networking along those lines. People perked up, and some of the
people I hadn't gotten to talk to reached out and asked for a business
card. I got several compliments on such a great idea, too!

So, networking tip for the day: Take a look at your business card
and figure out how you can create more value for the people you
For example, if you're a writer, you might want to list your
latest useful articles and offer to send a copy if people are
interested. Carry several versions of your business cards targeted for
different audiences. (Thanks to Greg A. Fitz
for this tip.) It's a great way to make an impression!

I love following these crazy little ideas. Stay tuned for more
networking tips. I'd love to hear yours, too!

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