Business Card Backlog Can Cost You Some Very Real Dollars
I visit way to many customers facing what I like to call - the Business Card Backlog. They accumulate a stack of neatly (and sometimes not so neatly) piled up business cards in plain view of anyone visiting their office. I suspect others suffer in silence. They stash their cards away in a desk drawer hoping to avoid the shame of having others find out.
The net-net of it is your networking efforts are going to waste. You went to that networking event. You met new contacts and exchanged business cards. Then…nothing.
I'm sure you know this is a huge waste of time and money, but did you think through the implications. You see, it takes multiple touches to connect with a new customer. Getting their business card is only step one. You have to continue with additional touches like:
- sending them email,
- giving them a call,
- including them in a mailing,
- hearing your name mentioned by someone you know in common or
- seeing you referenced in a local paper or flyer.
The key to effective networking is to meet someone and develop a relationship with them over time. That involves meeting them, introducing yourself and telling them what you do. Then you need to stay in touch using as many ways possible so they understand what you have to offer and keep you top of mind for when they want to make that buying decision. The end goal, of course, is to transact business and get referrals.
The problem many of us face is buyers typically need seven touches or more touches before they decide to buy from you. In contrast, sellers typically give up after touch number 2 or 3. For lack of time, organization or whatever, they can't or don't stay with it.
Please remember: If you stay with someone long enough, they will buy. People buy when they are ready buy, not when you are ready to sell. So your job is to make sure they think to call you when they are ready.
(If you want more on this, send me an email and I’ll forward you a FREE copy of Keith Ferrazzi’s book, “Never Eat Alone." It's a gift I share because of how well it's guided my networking efforts over the years. It’s a fun read too.)
The networking process is simple, but if you never get past touch number 1 – exchanging business cards - you aren’t going to get very far. And don’t count anyone out. The person you meet at a networking event that doesn't seem like much of a catch can very easily be that next huge customer. I've been surprised more than once. Most importantly, consider the people they know. They may be connected to a spouse, relative or friend that can make a huge difference for your business.
To keep my business card backlog in check, I use a system I've developed to automate many of the time consuming steps. For example,
- Entering the contact's information into my customer relationship management (CRM) system.
- Sending them an introductory email no more than 3 days after meeting them. It's just a simple “Hi” and explanation of what I do.
- Emailing them once every three to five weeks, (like I did with the email that led to you this article) telling them something new about what I do.
All this is made possible through automation software and has been priceless for keeping me connected with people who need the Internet marketing services I provide. It’s also been a great for getting referrals and who doesn't need a lot of those.
Like I said earlier, if you send me an email with your preferred physical mailing address, I’ll send you a copy of Keith Ferrazzi’s book, “Never Eat Alone.” It’s a great read and explains the thinking and approach you need for becoming a powerful networker.
And, of course, if you’d like to know more about the Internet marketing strategies I can provide you and your business, drop me a line or send me an email. These techniques work for any small business for reaching new customers. I’m always happy to chat over coffee about this one favorite topic of mine.
Hope this helps!