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It's All About Networking...
Business cards have always been the most professional way to network with both contacts and customers. The only hurdle is finding a way to distribute your card so that it reaches as many people as possible so that it can reach as many potentially important contacts as it can.
When mingling amongst potential contacts, engage in some conversation. If the person ends up being someone you would like to associate your business with, ask them for their card. The response to this is for them to in turn ask for you business card but if that is not the case do not try and give it to them. You already have their information which you can use to contact them at a later date.
If your business attracts a diverse bunch of customers you can ask potential contacts to leave their business cards at your reception area if they are satisfied with your services. This generate a lot of potential contacts which can be used to your advantage.
Let's say for example you are running a sandwich shop and you attract business people on a regular basis during lunch. If they leave their cards you can contact them at a later date to offer catering services for their office which can create more business for your shop.
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And Keeping Your Cards Active...
Business cards are only as good so long as they are being passed around and unique people are receiving the information or as long as the person with the card is consistently referencing it. Once a business card is in the trash or lost in someone's junk drawer it's dead and will no longer be of any use to you or that person.
What you have to do is keep your cards active for as long as possible in order to keep them circulating. This can be done a number of ways which are incredibly clever.
- Use the back (if it's blank) as scratch paper for writing down important information. This will ensure that the card is kept around until the information is no longer needed.
- Print useful information or functional items on the back of your cards such as calenders, map directions to your place of business, and things of that variety. This will give the card carrier more of a reason to hang onto your card for longer periods of time.
- Print them on uniquely colored paper or with a uniquely colored design. This will prevent your card from getting jumbled in with trash and scrap paper and will be more visually appealing than trash, allowing it to be left lying around.
- Encourage the continued distribution of the card. Offer a discount to anyone who brings one of your business cards in. The person who you give the card to may not need the discount but they may know someone who does. You can also re-use cards that are in good condition which can cut costs on printing more business cards.
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Don't Forget to Observe Etiquette!
In any social situation, there is a certain amount of etiquette that needs to be observed when dealing with business cards. Just remember these tips to avoid any faux pas that would prevent from marketing your business cards effectively:
- Always remember to keep several business cards on you at all times, you never know who you might run into.
- Always ask for a business card, never offer your own card unless asked first. This will help avoid situations where someone does not want to collect business cards but will allow for you to establish a relationship with this contact.
- Remember to keep them in a protective case on your person so that they do not become bent or scratched. Bent or damaged business cards are unprofessional looking and can cause the printing to become skewed making the card useless.
- Always check the regulations of a public message board you might be placing your card on. Even if it's a public message board make sure that your card is appropriate for the board and that when the board is cleared you are able to place a new card up in its place.
- Research the customs a foreign contact might have attached to the exchange of business cards in order to prevent any offense.
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All images are used for promotional purposes only and are listed in the order they appear.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/2trip/4252716299/sizes/m/in/photostream/ by Ellegante Press
http://www.flickr.com/photos/napfisk/4616499996/sizes/m/in/photostream/ by Nils Geylen
http://www.flickr.com/photos/osde-info/2638366959/sizes/m/in/photostream/ by osde8info
Resources: Several years of design study and business networking observation.