Friday, May 21, 2010

What to do when you get a Business Card?



I spend most of my time meeting clients and business partners, so I get tons of business cards. After getting so many cards, I’ve now developed good habits that really help me in managing them. What you should do when you get card:

1. Record the date.
Record the date (and place) so that you know when (and where) the meeting took place. At first, I only wrote the day and month (like 30/2). But later on, I tend to mix up year the date refers to. So I suggest you include the year too (like 31/4/09).

2. Highlight the preferred name.
In Malaysia, we have people from various races and religions, so naturally there are names with all sorts of formats. So underline which name the card owner wishes to be addressed. Tengku Muhammad Azlan Shah has 4 names, which one does he prefer: Tengku, Muhammad, Azlan or Shah? How about Tan Su Lian, is it SL Tan, Su Lian or Ms Tan?

3. Write other names.
There’re also those who prefer other names too. Tengku Muhammad Azlan Shah might prefer his nickname Che Mad. While Tan Su Lian might prefer her christian name Shirley Tan. So write them all down.

4. Spell to pronounce.
Sometimes you come accross business cards with names you can’t prononce. So rewrite the name in your own spelling, so you can pronounce it correctly later. It’ll be humiliating if you were to pronouce a name incorrectly the second time you meet (especially if the first meeting was just days before).

5. Write the circumtances of your meeting.
Was it a chance meeting? Was it in an elevator? Were you introduced by someone else? Record such info and it’ll help you to remember who the person is and why you met him.

6. Record what stands out.
This is what usually triggers my memory when I’m trying recall the person later on. Write something unique about the person, something that stands out. It could be ‘the guy with only 1 hand’, or ‘the lady with cutest dimples’ or ‘the guy with bad breath’.

7. Size up the prospect.
If you’re a marketer, insurance agent, Amway agent, unit trust consultant, Along, MLM agent, etc, I’m sure one day you’ll want to approach the card owner with what you have to offer. So, identify up front whether the person is a good prospect. If he already has insurance, record that so you’ll spend your time approaching others first. If he already bought the same water filter, record that so you don’t pitch the same thing.

Oh yes, last but not least:
8. Immediately get rid of cards you don’t want.
You don’t want to mix useful cards with unwanted ones. Useful cards are like the ones from your mechanic or your plumber, because you might need them one day. Keep the ones you need, get rid of the rest. Don’t feel bad to ‘discard’ any ‘card’.

If you see my collection of cards, most of them have scribblings at the back with all sorts of info. It really help me a lot in recognizing who the owners are.

I think above suggestions (especially no 7) are useful for marketers who try wants to pitch products/services and do follow ups. It makes huge difference between saying “How are you? I would like meet..” as opposed to “Diana, remember we met at the Klinik X. How’s your daughter’s eyes now, better? Actually I’m wondering if we could meet..“.

But others (non-marketers) can adopt the same habits too। After all, most of us get business cards from time to time, especially during events like weddings, kenduri, open house, etc. What’s the purpose of keeping the cards if you can’t tell whose card is whose?

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