“Never Leave Home (Or The Office) Without It”

Those old enough to remember an American Express ad campaign that ran several years ago might recall the tagline “Don’t leave home without it” – referring to their credit card. There was even a parody of the ad in the movie “Major League” about the Cleveland Indians. 

This slogan is appropriate to keep in mind when it comes to our business cards. We should make it a practice to keep a couple with us at all times. We should not leave the home or office without something to give to a person we meet that conveys our name and contact information.

Business cards aren’t as important as they once were in terms of serving as a “silent salesperson” for us when people would strategically place stacks of them in public places like restaurants for patrons to pick up and take with them – almost like a brochure. It was not uncommon for cards to be quite elaborate in terms of the number of colors of ink used and even with the addition of gold, copper, silver, or colored foil as an accent.

Our business cards do not have to stand out from the crowd like they did in the past. They just have to convey our information to the person receiving it. The transmission process for business cards is different today. We don’t need to have people we have never met pick them up with the hope that they will call us if they think they might be interested in what we provide. Business cards primarily are given to someone we have met, after we have introduced ourselves and spoken with them, and used to provide our contact information to them for future reference or for them to enter into their database.

Back to the slogan. We need to make sure that whenever we are someplace where we might encounter people where we would want or need to share our story and capture their contact information as well that we have two essential tools to make this happen – business cards and a writing implement (pen, pencil, or Sharpie).

We meet someone while we are out shopping, going to the Post Office, getting lunch, walking the dog, riding our bike, working out at the gym, or doing dozens of other activities, and we strike up a conversation with them. They like what we do, and we decide that we want to talk with them again. We give them our card so they have a record of who we are and how they might contact us again. We ask for a business card from them – which we fully expect them not to have. Because it’s likely they didn’t come prepared to pass out a business card or they don’t have them (in the case of someone retired), we need to give them one of ours for them to write down their name, phone number, and email address on the back – or do it for them.

For this reason, the backs of our business cards should be mostly or totally blank so we have space to write this information (or for them to do it), and the surface should not be glossy. Anything other than a flat, matte surface will cause the ink to smear when we handle it.

By the way, the single most important piece of information we can record about someone is their phone number. If we didn’t hear their name, write it down, or remember it – but we have their phone number – we can still call them and begin a conversation by reminding of where and how we met. If we only have an email address, and they don’t respond to our email, we have nothing. The same with just their name. They may not answer our call, but we can keep trying, leave a message, or text them.

Let’s be prepared to meet and engage people by having the two tools necessary to capture essential information from the encounter and cultivate new relationships.

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