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A Pile of Business Cards.. Now What?

by ​Carolyn Leighton-Hilborn

Although we live in a technical world and continue to hear about the benefits of a “paperless” society, traditional networking still has a place. These days everyone from top executives to trades people and even work at home moms have business cards. You may have already gathered a fair number over the course of your job search and are now wondering what to do with them.

Rather than allow them to collect dust on a shelf or throwing them out, why not use these business cards to your advantage? The names on these cards are people you have actually met at some point. Why not keep the relationship going or reintroduce yourself and see what happens? Networking is a significant part of the job hunt. To keep up the momentum in your job search, consider staying in touch with these new connections.

Here are 5 tips for putting your business cards to work:

1. Get Organized: Create or purchase a binder to store your business card collection. Alphabetize them either by industry or first name. You are likely to recall the person’s first name more easily than their last name. On the card write down where you met them, for example at a business function or a networking event or perhaps a chance meeting. Also write down the date of your meeting. This will help you recall where and when you met.

2. Document the Details: Consider writing down a few of the things you discussed with that person when you met, something that came up in the conversation that you can carry on with after you have parted ways.

3. Connect Online: If you are using LinkedIn for networking, look up the individual and send a request to connect, remind the person of your recent meeting and indicate you would appreciate getting to know them a bit more. Be friendly and respectful of their time. Avoid using the default invitation wording that LinkedIn automatically provides you. Such default messages can come across as cold, impersonal and actually uninviting.

4. Confidence in New Connections: Once you’ve established a better connection, ensure you interact with the person now and then. Share interesting information related to their field (which may likely be your field as well,) to help them realize you just might be a valuable person to have around as part of their network. Be careful not to overdo it, mistakenly coming across as pushy.

5. Stay Connected: Request to meet in person over coffee to talk business or to carry out an informational interview. How did they get to where they are today? Ask for tips and advice and if they have suggestions of other people who’d be willing to talk with you about planning your career. Avoid outright asking for a job. Following up will show your connections how passionate you are about your career and hopefully good things will come of it naturally.

Networking takes practice and patience. Following the above tips will help you head in the right direction.

If you’re interested in creating your own job seeker’s business card, please drop into one of our three offices, where we can help you get started. In addition, you can learn more about LinkedIn and in-person networking by attending one of our regular workshops. Want to network? We can help.