Tip #8: Write on the Business Cards

My friend and mentor, Eric Morgenstern of Morningstar Communications, has a wonderful list of 10 (well, 11… there is a bonus!) networking reception tips to which I refer to quite often and share with anyone who will listen.  Tip #8 is “Write on the Business Cards.”  It is meant as a means for remembering what you talked about, items you promised to follow up with, where you met the individual, etc.

Truth told, the first time I heard him say it out loud, I shuddered just a little bit.  I don’t know about you, but when I first entered the professional arena, I was told to never write on somebody else’s business card as it was akin to taking a permanent magic marker and writing across their forehead!  In fact, in some cultures, it is deemed highly disrespectful as the business card is seen as an extension of the self.

Well, I’m over it!  In fact, more and more people who I talk with about this concept tell me that they, at a minimum, write the date and sometimes the name of the event where they met the individual represented on the card.  And, I suggest that if people have issues with writing on the cards – or, since many cards are now printed on coated paper and other materials on which you cannot write – carry a note card or a notepad with you to jot down your notes.

Last week, I met a fellow, Bob King, Owner and Chief Innovator for Thought Spray Solutions, who improved further on this concept – he actually gives explicit permission to his contacts to write on his cards by providing them with a simple form to fill out on the back of the card!  Here’s what Bob told me about his card:

  • As a money saving solution, Bob prints his own business cards on beige cardstock from a Microsoft Word file.
  • The form on the back of the card includes the following fields:
    • Met Bob on _______ at _________________
    • We talked about:
    • He asked me to:
    • I asked him to:
    • We agreed to follow-up on:
    • Bob created cards for his wife, Ann, who is the company’s Creative Solutions Designer.  Of course on Ann’s cards, the “he” is changed to “she,” etc.
  • As a variation, if Bob is going to a conference or knows he will be handing out his card with some frequency at a particular event, he will go the extra step to fill in the first fields with the date(s) and venue before he prints up that batch of cards.  He says that it saves a little time in the frenzied networking that takes place between panels and plenary sessions at such events.

I just love the functionality and action-orientation associated with this approach.  It is indeed a great way to remember where you met someone, what you discussed and which items you each must follow up on by when.  Thanks for the terrific ideas, Bob!

P.S. – Bob’s card was named one of America’s top 35 best business cards in an August 2011 post by the site Social Tech Pop!  Check out some of the other greats, too.

P.P.S. – Can’t let this day go by without wishing one of my all-time most important contacts, best friends, key mentors, most trusted advisers and #1 chief cook and bottle washer a Happy, Happy, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  I love you, Daddy Max!  For a man your age, you still got it!  Wishing you many, many, many more happy, healthy wonderful returns.


5 thoughts to “Tip #8: Write on the Business Cards”

  1. @Alana – Thanks for the great coverage about my business card solution. Your article truly captured the spirit of the concept very well.

    @Readers – Contact me if interested in more information. I can offer specific examples where the card format led to successful follow up.

    Lastly, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the value of HARO (Help A Reporter Out) in this story. The earned media coverage by Social Tech Pop came about through a HARO query.
    REF: http://www.helpareporter.com/

  2. People are given so many business cards throughout their career and many of them end up in the trash. This is a great way to make sure that recipients remember who you are. It also makes the card stand out in the pile.

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