By Naomi Cook
As a self-employed business owner, aside from working with clients in their homes, I spend a lot of time in my home office. It’s wonderful to get out of the office and network with new people who can help you and your business grow. However, while a lot of networking can help both you and your business grow, it can also create a dust covered growth on the corner of your desk…yes, stacks and stacks of business cards!
It’s not atypical to arrive home from a networking session with a dozen to a couple dozen business cards. Don’t panic…we can work through this together! Follow these simple steps when you get home from your networking event, so you have the people that the cards belong to fresh in your mind. Don’t stress about this too much, the process should be quick and painless!
1) Lay out the cards in front of you and first pull the ones that you want to take immediate notes on, if you haven’t had the opportunity to do so at the event. Write down anything of interest that you talked about with a person, even if it’s a hobby that the two of you share.
2) Take 3 sticky notes and jot the following three words down, one on each. Grab 3 rubber bands as well to group the cards together in each category.
- Contact – If they are someone to call or e-mail about an upcoming opportunity.
- LinkedIn – If they are someone who you don’t need to talk to about anything at this point but simply want to add them to your LinkedIn account to stay connected.
- Referral – If they are someone who you think could help another one of your contacts.
3) Set up time in your schedule within the next few days to focus on each group.
So what is there to do now, now that you have gone through them? How do you go about storing them? Well, that depends on your personal preference. Consider the following options:
If you and your smart phone are attached at the hip, then consider one of the business card scanning apps out there. There are so many, so it’s best to check out the ones available to your phone, read the reviews, and decide which one is best for you. After you scan all of the cards, you can toss them in the recycling bin if you so choose!
If you would like to keep the cards (some of them are really great looking!), then consider filling any binder with plastic business card pages designed to hold business cards. You should be able to find these in any office supply store. Or, go old school and get a Rolodex! Keep either in order alphabetically or by occupation.
However you decide to handle your business cards, remember that the main point of collecting them is keeping in contact with new people who can help you. Oh and don’t forget to dust your desk once in a while!