Time was, the rolodex was king. The bigger your stack of business cards, the bigger your sphere of influence and potential customers. Size mattered. Now we come to a crossroads about those cards: Help or Heave?
When is the last time you actually went through that stack of business cards anyway? I mean really one by one. Further, when is the last time you actually made meaningful contact with those prospects or colleagues? Further still, SHOULD YOU even be making meaningful contact and by extension, even need to hang on to that business card?
A simple exercise
Here’s a simple exercise that might help you decide. I call it “Help or Heave”.
For those of you who are buyers of goods or services, my bet is you were offered that business card (and didn’t ask for it). If that’s so, you have a short-cut to why you should have that business card. Here’s the question:
“Can this person/company/service make my business better?” If you can’t answer “yes” to that after having met personally, no matter how brief the encounter, then shame on the other party who was so anxious to give you their card, but didn’t pass the “I can make your business life better” test. Verdict: Heave It. (But I’ll bet you buyers do this already in some way or another).
For you who are sellers of goods and services, time for a facts of life talk. The painful reality is that of every business card you’ve gathered, there is a strong likelihood that the person on the other end doesn’t really care if they hear from you again. Sorry, you gotta deal with it. You possessing that business card has about as much juice as an Ace of Spades playing card. It may look valuable, but doesn’t mean squat if you’re not using it in a real game.
What’s the real game? Assessing how committed you are to truly helping that contact with his business, and develop a productive and meaningful business relationship.
Again, the keywords: Helping. Productive. Meaningful.
And please hit “eject” on the “I want a helping, productive and meaningful relationship with all of them”. If you think scanning through those cards and making an action plan to send them another round of generic sales emails, or phones calls to “check in”, or the “action plan” to send them more stuff or call them every time a special sales opportunity comes up; please just…STOP. Those are simply a waste of your time and theirs.
Fact is, developing a…say it with me…Helping, Productive and Meaningful business relationship, requires a concerted effort on your part. A few of the key components:
It’s about them
The focus of your correspondence and contact be about helping them. Enlighten. Bust a myth in the industry. Forward a story of interest to them (Not about you. At least not exclusively). Make their day better, because they heard from you.
What’s going on at that company? In the industry? What social media channels, if any, has your contact been using and how might you leverage that to strength their perception of you and your company? Everybody’s favorite subject? You already know it – themselves.
Find examples of other companies that have had success with your service that might peak their interest (of course, nothing proprietary).
There’s more, but here’s the farming paradigm: If you’re not willing to go through the hard work, of planting and cultivation and harvest – then the seeds don’t mean anything.
OK, NOW you’re ready to go through that pile of business cards
Really ask yourself how committed you are to developing that relationship. Is the card a Help or Heave? By being brutally honest with yourself – and I just did this very exercise myself recently – you’ll likely reduce that stack of business cards dramatically.
And it’s OK to “Heave”. As long as you’re really willing to “Help” the cards you keep.
The Ganon Group offers communication coaching for executives and employees across all departments: C-Suite Leadership, Sales, Customer Experience, Technical / Product Development, to improve their communication and presentation techniques. We believe everyone can “up” their game when it comes to communicating initiatives and ideas within the organization, outside to new prospects, to existing clients, or to outside media and trade organizations. www.theganongroup.com