Your Business Card is NOT a Queen of Spades

We love to play various card games. My kids especially love Crazy 8's, it's a fast paced game with the main goal to get rid of all your cards before any opponents. They get extra enthusiastic when they lay a card down that causes you as the next player to pick more cards up – especially the Queen of Spades, where the penalty is 5 extra cards! 

Unfortunately at many events people treat it like a game of Crazy 8's and use their business cards in the same way – they come around trying to put their cards down (or in your hands) as quickly as possible, many times moving on before even asking you anything or getting your card in return – more worried about their next turn instead. 

At two recent networking events I experienced two classic examples of this, which resulted in the damaging of each person's personal brand in a big way. 

1. At the first event I was standing at a small drinks table with three other people, all of us in conversation. This person 'barged' in to the group, had their business cards in hand like a deck of cards and proceeded to 'deal' us each one card on the table in front of us, with the comment of "I am X and I do Y" and then walked on to the next group.

We all looked at each other slightly bemused, continued our conversations and when we did depart not one of us picked up a card.  

2. At the other event I was in conversation with one other person who I had not seen for a while and was really interested in catching up. This person just came up to us both and shoved their card in our hands and walked on.

Not more than 10 minutes later they were back, had completely forgotten who they had already given cards to, and tried to give us their card again. My blue recycling bin was the only place I filed that card! 

Your business card is very often the only physical reminder someone has of your personal brand, so make sure you are using it wisely. 

Establish some kind of rapport or relationship with someone before offering your card, or wait until they ask for it. Or if you feel you can offer some value to that person make sure to ask for theirs. 

But however you decide to exchange cards, as the American Express ad's say –  don't leave home without them! 


5 thoughts on “Your Business Card is NOT a Queen of Spades”

  1. Paul – Excellent Post! I totally agree with you. I think the test is: if the person you gave your card to looks at it a week later, will they remember you and why you spoke? If not, something didn’t click.
    I think you have an even more important point buried in your second example. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been frustrated and annoyed when someone barges in on a one-to-one conversation I’m having with someone at an event. It is just plain rude. The rule is, feel free to wander up and join a group of three or more who are talking, but be VERY careful about joining two. Maybe hover in eyesight for a few seconds, and look for body language inviting you in. If you don’t find it, move on! I’ve had some very good conversations totally destroyed by this kind of interuption, and it’s impossible to get that momentum back.
    Keep up with the great advice!

  2. You’re preaching to the converted Paul. Good observations, Steve on reading body language — the conversationalists’ feet and shoulders may hold a clue; should they partly point to you when you stop by, this can be a welcome sign for you to join in; if not, you may want to play it safe and keep walking.
    Personally, I’m a proponent of having your picture on your business card in order to be memorable (in a good way), given the info. overload we face, though some may feel this to be “too much.”
    Have either of you heard of With SmartPhone growth in the next 2 years, especially with the Y Generation, I feel that this will — to some extent — be a game-changer with respect to virtual business cards in addition to collaborately sharing much more.
    Good article, Paul.

  3. Great point Steve, that two person conversation is important to watch for in particular. If it really is a key person you could consider just making a very swift interuption asking to catch the person before they leave and than letting the conversation continue.
    I think you are spot on Mike, I’m not looking forward to the day when it’s all smartphone, but it’s going to just get more likely every day.

  4. I also believe in photos on the card, Mike. We do that at my firm (PTC Accounting & Finance) for exactly that reason, to be more memorable and personal. I sometimes come home from events and have trouble putting cards to faces. But I think photos will always be the exception.
    The Smartphone apps are cool, but a) till there is one that works well with Blackberry, I can’t see it taking off, and b) I’d hate to see the ceremony associated with receiving and saving business cards disappear.
    I connect to as many people that I meet on LinkedIn as possible – I think that is the ‘living business card’ that will allow you stay connected over time.

  5. Hi Paul,
    I will never forget going to my first networking group and coming back with a handful of business cards and maybe only remembering a couple of people. I swore I would never do that to anybody. Run over to people and hand them cards.
    It’s the crazies thing that happens in fact I think one day I will do a Documentary on it!
    Thanks again

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