Believe me. I understand the frustration. You have been unemployed for a considerable period of time. You are having trouble making ends meet. You are trying your best. You know that the vast majority – over 70%! – of job openings are not publicized but are filled through networking. And you network. Boy do you network! And you have scores, hundreds, thousands of business cards to prove it. Sorry. Collecting business cards is not networking. Let me give you a recent personal example. I joined the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. It’s a great organization. They are focused on their members, not on dues. In counter distinction to a different organization of which I had been a member, instead of receiving a plaque when I joined, the MCC sent me an invitation to a new members’ breakfast. At the breakfast, I met one of the directors. We had a nice chat and she put me in touch with a board member who is responsible for the Chamber’s “Ambassador” program. Ambassadors meet and greet participants at Chamber events and recruit new members. I met with the board member and he appointed me an ambassador, after a good hour long interview during which he got to know me. From that conversation, we developed a rapport which led to an ongoing discussion about a joint project. Also, at the breakfast, I met two ambassadors who are members of the Chamber’s Business Referral Groups. They invited me to attend the next meeting of their respective groups, of which there are presently two, and I chose to join one of them. Following my first group meeting, I met with one of the Ambassadors who indicated to me that she was looking to hire staff. She is a veteran and since my company’s mission is to promote the hiring of veterans, she said she would utilize my services and asked for a contract. At a subsequent group meeting one of the members noted he too is looking to hire someone for his company. We’ll be talking after the New Year. Now things don’t usually work this way. This was too fast. It was too quick. Usually it takes weeks to get to the position when the business card turns into a networking event and the networking event turns into a lead and the lead turns into an offer. (Just to clarify, an event advertised as a “networking event” is not really a “networking event.” The networking takes place when an actual relationship is formed. Then you are “networking.” When you first meet, you are schmoozing.) Here’s how it usually works: You go to an event. You meet Joe. You exchange business cards. You send Joe an e-mail saying how much you enjoyed meeting him and look forward to being in touch. Joe is busy and does not respond. A couple of days later you pick up the phone, call Joe, and invite him for a cup of coffee. You tell him that you would like to learn more about his business. You don’t tell him that you really want to meet with him so that he can help you get a job – or, better yet, hire you. If you tell him that, he might say, “Listen. I wish I could help. But I really don’t know of anything or have anything for you. Send me your resume and I’ll let you know if I hear of anything.” In other words, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.” People like to talk about themselves so he agrees to the meeting. You arrive a bit early, greet him when he arrives at the corner café and after ordering your drinks and some small talk about the weather you thank him for meeting with you and tell him you were intrigued by what he had told you about his business. You listen respectfully, ask a few insightful questions, and make a link between what he is telling you and your own life experiences. (The questions are also based on the research you did on him. This impresses our friend Joe who now knows that you prepare for meetings and understand due diligence – things that employers like and that turn strangers into business referrals!) What you are doing is creating a real relationship.If Joe’s a good guy, he will ask you about yourself. (If he doesn’t ask, then he probably is not someone who will be of any help to you so you would be wasting your time pursuing a relationship with him.) You give your elevator pitch and answer any questions he has. You must be upbeat and positive. No matter how you lost your job you cannot reveal any bitterness. No one is going to recommend a bitter person who they just met to a business associate or a friend. Now it’s been a good 15 minutes and you tell him that you don’t want to take up any more of his time. And this is when you ask the key question. It’s not, “Can you help me find a job?” You ask, “How can I be of help to you? What type of clients are you looking for or services do you need? I have met a lot of freelancers and may be able to refer someone to you.” What you have just done is to show that you believe in helping people. Some call it “giving forward.” You are telling him that you want to be an asset to him. And you are showing him that you know how to network. You are willing to help him, and through him, others. Joe says what he says and then you ask for a favor. “Joe. I know you are busy, but I wanted to ask a favor. As I said, I’m looking for my next opportunity. Could I send you a list I have made of companies that I am interested in working for? I’d appreciate it if you could review it and let me know if you have any contacts that might be useful or any suggestions for additions or deletions.” (Notice I did not suggest that you offer to send him your resume. Let him ask for the resume. The issue is, you don’t want him to feel that you are asking him for a job. If you give him the resume, that’s the inevitable impression. If he asks for a copy, and hopefully he will, that’s another matter.) He’ll probably answer in the affirmative and tell you to send the list because, by showing that you have a positive attitude and no bitterness, and by offering to help him, you’ve shone yourself to be a professional. Joe does not have to worry that you will embarrass him so he should be willing to help. You have now formed a relationship and successfully networked with him. Congratulations! E-mail him the list. Wait a week-10 days and give him a call. Don’t be a pest, just give a friendly reminder. And when you send the list, thank him for the meeting and for agreeing to review the list. I am amazed at how many people don’t understand the importance of “Thank you!” If he gives you some leads, or even makes a call on your behalf, whatever you do, follow-up. If he tells you to call Mary, call Mary. If you meet with Mary and she asks you to send her some information, send it immediately. (If you don’t follow-up, I guarantee it will get back to Joe and he won’t have anything more to do with you because you embarrassed him. It’s as simple as that.) If you get a call from Joe telling you to call his friend Sam immediately, and when you hang up on Joe your wife goes into labor, call Sam and then take the wife to the hospital. And when your child is born, name him Joseph or her Josephine. Now THAT’S networking. This post was originally published at an earlier date Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Yes, there's such a thing as business card etiquette when networking. Don't mess it up! Related: 8 Steps To Build Relationships After A Networking Event Suppose you were out having lunch with a new business acquaintance and when your food was delivered to the table, your lunch partner reached over with her hand and sampled your meal. What would you think? That they were rude - lacking proper social etiquette, right? You’d be offended and probably lose your appetite. Besides ranking their social grace at zero, you’d also seriously question their professional competence as well. The example I shared above is extreme. But here’s the point: All it takes is one wrong move to jeopardize your professional image. At live networking events, where you only have 30 seconds to make a good first impression, you cannot afford to make the wrong move. Regardless of how shallow it may seem, the world first judges us on how we appear. It’s more than looks and clothes – it’s demeanor, presence, body language, how confident you appear engaging with others. And all of that can be picked up in a first glance or notice, or with the first handshake. So let’s say you are dressed well, your confidence is high and your body language is clearly communicating you are a person worth knowing. You’re 50% there. I've seen well dressed people still leave a bad impression (even if the first one was good) because of bad networking etiquette. Some of the worst mistakes I see at networking events are people not understanding how to use their business card.
While the unemployment rate has improved significantly compared to what it was a few years ago, the number of people who are unemployed remains quite large. Unfortunately, you might be one of those very same people dealing with unemployment. If you've been out hunting for a job, you may have found it's much more difficult than one would normally anticipate. Why, though? The answer to that quandary is quite simple—with jobs being so scarce, everyone in the jobless category is out and about, hunting for any signs of a potential job opening. To an employer, the endless amount of job applicants may start blending together. Therefore, you have a new job now: you need to formulate a strategy to stand out. Moreover, anyone who has been in business for themselves knows just how important an effective marketing campaign is. This very same principle can apply to job hunting as well. Marketing for a job hunt is nowhere near as elaborate as an intricate promotional campaign implemented by a business. In fact, a simple business card goes a long way in personal branding. Think about it. Business cards are excellent personal branding tools when “accidentally” left behind after a job interview. Moreover, considering how companies such as Quality Logo Products allow customers to customize their own business card, an impressive image can easily be created through bright colors, clip art, and even a personal photo. Standing out certainly would not be an issue when the HR manager opens his/her wallet and sees a business card brandishing your face and contact information. Furthermore, business cards do not have to be casually left behind, unknown to the interviewer. No, no, in fact some employers may find that you have shown initiative if you directly approach them, open your wallet, and simply say, “Let me leave you with my card.” Not only would you have shown initiative, but you have also conveyed a sense of professionalism. That very same professionalism could be the factor that ultimately lands you the job. Should you choose to incorporate business cards in your job search efforts, just remember to include all the important information on how you can be reached in the event an employer wants to follow-up. While creating a custom, flashy card, complete with a personal picture, may be enticing, the aesthetics are not as important as the qualitative data that you include on it. Generally, the standard business card will obviously have a name, as well as any phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and website links that pertain to you personally. It would be great if the unemployment rate could be reduced to zero, but the foreseeable future does not appear to hold this as a possibility. Therefore, you need to avoid being a statistic. You want to appear as if you do not need the job so much as the job needs you. If you are able to see yourself as an asset, then chances are good that potential managers will view you the same way. It doesn’t hurt to carry a personal business card, though, if only to leave employers with a way to contact you.
There are many situations when a plastic card would offer a business additional benefits, but many companies don’t consider printing onto plastic cards, instead of the traditional medium of card. First impressions count for everything: if you’re giving somebody a card, whether it’s a loyalty card, business card or an information card, then being remembered is the number one aim. Do you want to be remembered for style, quality and design? Will these advantages make you stand out from the crowd and elevate your brand above the competition? The plastic card industry is evolving and expanding through new printing technologies and increasing interest, as businesses swap from the traditional card to plastic. This means plastic cards (including plastic business cards for companies or individuals) are affordable and accessible to the vast majority of business across the world. So why are companies switching to plastic to promote their businesses? Plastic is a material that has many uses and comes in almost every shape, size and colour. Its popularity has been mainly due to its versatility and durability. Printing cards in plastic means they can last for a very long time and keep on representing your brand in an untarnished way in comparison to other materials that would have started to fray or disintegrate. It takes a lot of use to wear out a plastic card, which is why many companies are now looking to plastic for business cards. How many times have you placed a business card into your purse or wallet and regretted it when you needed the number on the now disfigured card?
A decade or so deep into the digital age, the traditional business card has been struggling to keep up with the times. Although it still has its place in the established traditions of the professional world, the tech industry and a new generation of young professionals are turning to networking websites and smartphone applications to make new business connections and opportunities happen faster. With a website or app, professional details can be saved with a few mouse clicks or a swipe of a screen. Information can also even be swapped by simply "bumping" two smartphones together. (Let’s hope that this won’t replace the hearty handshake.) Here are five new ways that people connect professionally: