8 Ways to Use Business Cards to Network and Market Your Business
by Linda Elizabeth Alexander
You've had the finest, most eye-catching business cards printed. Now, what do you do with them? Networking with business cards is one of the most cost effective means of marketing your business--and yourself.
Don't leave them sitting in the box, they do you no good there. Get them into the hands of your prospects! If you think of your business card as a mini-billboard for your company, you'll realize that you need people to see it in order for it to be effective. Here are a few ideas to get you started...
1) Keep them in your pocket, purse, briefcase, and wallet, on your desk, and at the reception area of your office
Leave some in your car. Always have them on hand so you can introduce yourself to new people when the moment is right. They should be a necessary part of your routine before you leaving home every day. When checking for your wallet and keys, check for a stack of business cards too. Keep replenishing your supply.
2) Store your cards in a nice holder so they don't get bent
Keeping your cards in a stylish business card case makes for a better presentation when you hand your cards out. Likewise, treat others' cards well when you accept them. For example, spend a few moments reading the card closely before you put it away. You won't impress the person by mishandling their business card. If your contact information should change, have new cards printed immediately. Writing in your new email address or phone number leaves a bad impression.
3) Place business cards on bulletin boards at local restaurants, supermarkets, libraries, and your children's schools
At your place of business, have a bulletin board where others can post their cards in return for passing out your cards to others. If you see a fishbowl offering a drawing for a prize, throw your business card in. Somebody important might see it and contact you.
4) Include business cards with all of your correspondence, including bills you pay
You never know who might open the mail that day. If realtors can sell houses this way, why can't you generate business the same way? If you ship products, for example, include a card with every package. Send business cards with all thank you notes and letters you send out. Include your contact information in your email signature as well. It serves as an electronic business card.
5) Use them as scrap paper when you need to jot down a note
Instead of a napkin, use the back of your business card to write in your cell phone number. "This is my direct line," you might say, making the prospect feel important and giving him or her a reason to keep your card.
6) Give people a reason to hold on to your card
Print something unique on the back of it--a calendar, a list of your services, important measurements, or anything relevant to your industry. You could also print a coupon on it, and ask them to return the card with their order, so again they have a reason to keep your card.
7) As a business owner or manager, have business cards printed for all staff members, right down to the lowest ranking person
The novelty of the cards for those who usually don't have them will entice employees to hand them out. At the same time, you'll make them feel appreciated. Your employees are part of your network, so use their networks to generate business for your company.
8) Use your business cards to introduce yourself to prospects you meet at networking functions, in the park or at your children's soccer games
However, don't be pushy. Make sure the time is appropriate. One way to do this is to ask for the other person's card. He or she will likely ask you for your card in return. Another idea is to hand out two or three cards at a time--one for the person you meet, and extras for him or her to hand out to referrals. (Offering to do the same would be the polite thing to do here.) When you go to the doctor or dentist, present your card to the receptionist to announce your presence.
Leaving your business cards to sit in a box or a drawer collecting dust defeats the purpose of having them. They are inexpensive enough to print by the thousands, so hand them out liberally. It's a cost-effective way to market yourself and your business.
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