"Our grand business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance,
but to do what lies clearly at hand."
-- Thomas Carlyle
Business cards. Who thinks about business cards?
I do!
During the past eight weeks I've attended an Internet marketing conference in Las Vegas, the National Speakers Association's (NSA) annual meeting in Orlando, and an E-mail marketing conference in Chicago. And several local "networking" events.
The one thing that jumps out at me is how many people don't come prepared. They don't bring pens, they don't bring paper, and they don't bring business cards.

Jim and I are speaking. It sounds like he's doing some interesting things. I ask, "Can I have one of your business cards?" as I'm about to hand him one of my own.
He mumbles to himself that he's not sure where they are. He pulls out his wallet and begins searching. As I watch him I feel as if I'm an eye-witness to an archaeological expedition. He pulls out credit card receipts, credit cards, family pictures, his driver's license, and other people's business cards -- with notes scribbled on the back.
Sheepishly he says, "I know I've got one . . . somewhere. Let me look in my briefcase. The search continues. He opens his briefcase, which is packed with files and papers, memos and reports, newsletters and newspapers, and maybe somewhere inside . . . a business card.
Finally he finds one and hands it to me.
We exchange pleasantries and move on.
I write down some notes on the back of his business card so I can add him to my ACT! database and give him a call in a few days. Who knows where my business card ended up.
A few moments later, I begin a conversation with Ellen. We chat for a few moments, and I ask if she would like to be added to my e-mail newsletter. She says, "Yes." I ask her for a business card.
Ellen opens her purse, and starts rummaging around. She finds everything except a business card.
Ninety-seconds later I give her one of mine -- along with a pen, and ask her to writer her name, e-mail address and other information on the back.
I put her business card in my right pants pocket. Mine goes into the bottomless pit known as her bulging purse.

Business cards are inexpensive. You can buy a thousand for $50 to $100. But we forget to carry them around with us. It's a big mistake.
You never know when you're going to meet someone who could become a customer, business associate, or sphere of reference.

While flying back to Chicago from the NSA meeting in Orlando. I found myself sitting in the same aisle as Patricia Fripp --
http://www.fripp.com -- a wonderful speaker and delightful person, whom I had never had the pleasure of "really" speaking with.
When the plane landed, we started talking as we collected our carry-on luggage, walked into the terminal and had a wonderful ten-minute conversation. During our few moments together we discovered we shared a number of common business interests.
At the end of our conversation we both made notes to ourselves -- on the backs of each other's business card -- about what we would do next.
Then we said good bye. I hopped in a taxi and went home, and she flew on to San Francisco. When we got back to our offices, we both did the things we had written down on the back of the business cards.

Here are five business card and networking tips you should use. They'll help you take advantage of the opportunities that come your way through the people you meet.

* Always keep a large quantity of business cards in your briefcase, wallet or purse.

* Replenish your supply after every meeting and networking event.

* Create a system for giving and taking business cards. I keep my business cards in my left pants pocket and place the cards I receive in my right pants pocket.

* Look at a person's card before you put in your pocket or purse. Look at the name, then look at the person's face. Try to make a mental picture of both their name/face in your mind so you can remember your new friend.

* After meeting someone, jot down some key pieces of information on the back of the card, and any action items or follow-up you must do when you return to your office. If you don't want to follow up, or put them in your database, discretely write an "X" across the card.

Giving your business card away isn't nearly as important as getting the other person's business card. If you hand someone your card, and then expect them to call you up, you're going to be sitting by the phone for a long, long time.
The single reason most people aren't effective networkers is that they don't have a good follow-up system. When you meet someone, and want to keep in touch with them, take the responsibility to put their name in your database, schedule a follow-up call, and then call them.
Reprinted with permission from "Jeffrey Mayer's Succeeding in Business Newsletter." (Copyright, 2002, Jeffrey J. Mayer, Succeeding in Business, Inc.)
To subscribe to Jeff's free newsletter, visit
It's September. Time to be prepared and get back into effective action in using your business cards and receiving the cards of others.

Commit to one new procedure this week. For starters:

a) Are you using your database management system?

b) If yes, how can you enhance your effectiveness with it?

c) If no, what is stopping you?

Hint: Hate to enter business card information? There are scanners available that will enter business card information directly into your database.

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September 13, 2002
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