Here’s how to easily fix one of the worst networking mistakes.
Take 200 business cards out of your desk drawer, bring them home, and scatter them around your life. Distribute them everywhere you may later find you need them. More detail on this is below. But first some background:
I speak at 25+ legal or marketing conferences each year. So trust me, today’s advice comes from actual experience, in the trenches, with countless lawyers and other professionals.
Every year, I personally interact at cocktail receptions with thousands of lawyers, marketers, and administrators. And every single year, I’ll have asked hundreds of professionals for their business cards.
Roughly 20% of them won’t have a handy business card.
Not a single card in their jacket, pants, wallet, briefcase, suitcase, or hotel room. Not one.
Now it’s not like I surprised them at an elevator or bus stop (although candidly that’s still no excuse). They proactively went far out of their way to attend a program. They had to leave the office for lunch, an afternoon, or an entire week. They often booked an international flight to get to the venue.
And when they get there — no cards.
They’re meeting new prospects or potential referral sources, then they exit the conversation without any way for those people to follow up with them or add them to their database.
They’ve wasted all that valuable networking time.
Some tell me with a straight face that it’s a strategic decision — “I never bring cards. They’ll remember me because I’m the guy who doesn’t bring cards.”
Sorry Charlie (or whatever your name is, I’ve already forgotten it), that’s just stupid. If you’re Beyoncé or Donald Drumpf, they’ll remember meeting you. If you’re just one more lawyer at a conference, however charming you feel you always are or were at the time, within an hour they’ll have forgotten about you and what you discussed as they’ve gone on to meet another dozen lawyers seemingly just like you. It’s the nature of the business.
Most sheepishly admit, “Sorry, I got busy at work and forgot to bring them.” Or they say, “They’re upstairs, in my room.” (OK, then go GET them, for goodness sakes.) Or my favorite, “My wife keeps them for me, in her purse.”
So when they could have made a professional first impression, they look like careless doofuses instead. “Unprepared” is not a trait I want in my lawyers.
And it’s so easily avoidable.
Here’s the simple strategy: Get the cards out of your desk.
If you’re a partner, you received 500 cards when you joined the firm, in two boxes of 250 card each. Roughly 150 of the first box are sitting in your desk’s top drawer. The second “overflow” box of 250 is gathering dust in your bottom drawer or credenza.
Bring the second box of 250 cards home.
Then scatter them around your life.
Toss 100 rubber-banded cards in both your suitcase and roller bag as a back up. Put 3-5 in your wallet, and replace immediately when used. Next, distribute them among every single place you might find yourself needing one.
Stash cards in every suit coat, blazer, jacket, trench coat, and overcoat.
Disperse them among your purses, briefcase, gym bag, backpack, and glove box.
Sure, give 5-10 to your spouse too.
Yes, there are also digital business card tools and apps as well, like mobile cards you can click, tap, or email. I like those too. But a lot of your target audience is going to want an actual high-quality, engraved card to bring home, give to their secretary or marketing department to add to their database or LinkedIn.
Just do it. It’s important. OK?
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