See that stack of business cards on your desk? You know, the ones bound together in a snarl of rubber bands? Maybe you have those cards in neat piles with notes scribbled on them. In alphabetical order. Or arranged phonetically. In a binder of some sort. A shoebox. Or in an archaic device that in the good old days we called a Rolodex.
Anyway, what do you plan on doing with those cards?
Even with all the technology in the world, business cards still mean something. When you've collected a card from someone you think can hire you, it's hard to throw it away. On some level, it's natural to feel that if an important business person hands you their card, you have permission to call them, write them, put them in your sales funnel, and add them to your blog.
Often enough, not the case.
Exchanging business cards is sometimes a reflex in networking scenarios as people simply don't know what else to do. I know people that will introduce themselves at an event and immediately hand out their card and begin talking about their business.
Not only can this put those you meet on the defensive immediately but when you get their card, it seems like you got it because you made a great connection - but it may just be a reflex. (After all, it does seem weird when someone hands you a business card and you don't give them yours.)
Now as a reflex, you have their business card and think they're a prospect because, well, they gave you their business card. But they're not.
But you keep their card anyway. And now what?
How many "now what?" business cards are in your snarl of rubber bands?
First, accept the fact that many of those business cards collecting dust on your desk don't represent true prospects. If they did, you would have already followed up and closed them as clients.
Next, decide which business cards represent people that you can help (as in refer business) and which ones you can't. Also, decide who you like, didn't like, and who you think liked you.
Toss the cards where there is little or no connection. Now, focus on the smaller pile.
Either through email or phone (my preference), contact them and reconnect while taking the blame for not staying in touch.
Here's what the email version may look like.
It's been a really long time! How have you been?
I was just updating my database and stumbled upon your business card. I recall meeting you at a Chamber of Commerce meeting and having a great conversation. I'm sorry I never reconnected with you. No time like the present!
It would be great to reconnect and set up a quick call. It would be interesting to compare notes and explore ways we might be able to ultimately help one another.
How does that sound?
Please let me know what works with your schedule. Looking forward to coordinating!
Remember, think networking - learning and helping, not selling.
You want people you reconnect with to be excited for having reconnected with you. Think about the excitement you feel when you get back in touch with an old friend from your past through Facebook or LinkedIn. Isn't it fun?
That's how it should feel.