Talking to People About Your Business: Business cards, Breaking into Conversations and Permission-based Marketing

On 3/14, Tanya Smith and Tai Goodwin interviewed me on their BlogTalk Radio show, Your First 20 Clients for a segment, How to Talk to Strangers (and Friends) About Your New Business.

This blog post is the sixth in a series based on that show (I’m transcribing it one question at a time).

Today’s segment, on business cards, breaking into conversations and permission-based marketing, is from 26:48 to 33:20 in the hour-long audio of the show.

Diane: I’m not a big fan of speed networking, unless it’s an actual speed networking event.  Because if all you’re trying to do is . . . and I hate this . . . I absolutely hate this . . . I’ve been to events where there will be one person walking around, passing out business cards.  It’s like “Hi, I’m  ______ and I’m doing this.  Here’s my card.” And then they go on to the next person.

Tanya: Yep, “I don’t care about you.”

Diane:  Why would I even want to save that card?  Unless, it’s something I really need . . . But, still that did not leave a good impression.

So, just passing out your business card . . . what is that going to get you?

Really, you don’t necessarily want to pass out your card.  What you want is to get other people’s cards because then you’re in control.  If you give out your card, you have no control if that person ever contacts you.  But, if you have their card then you have more control.  Plus it also just looks better if you are the one asking for the card.

Give your card = lose control
Get the other person’s card = control

I would suggest in most cases that you don’t give out your card unless they ask or unless there is a good reason for you to give your card out, like you’ve talked about something and you refer to something on your website, for example.   And, then you give your card out, “there’s my website address.” That kind of thing.

That is sort of my pet peeve—People who just hand out cards indiscriminately without trying to make a relationship.

Tai: I call that “Drive-bys.” (laughter)

Diane: I think that people forget about the point of networking.  The point of networking is probably not to get business right then and there.  The point of networking is to initiate a relationship that may result in business or referrals.  And so, you’re going to have to do follow up.

Networking = initiate relationships that may result in business or referrals

If you have great conversation with someone and have no way to get a hold of them, then you wasted time.  I mean, other than having a great conversation.

Are there some networking things that are your pet peeves maybe that I haven’t even mentioned?

Tai: Oh, gosh, tons!

Diane: There’s so many!  How long do you want to spend?

Tanya: You mentioned mine.  That drive-by of just tossing business cards at people.  I was at an event where someone did that.  I was in the middle of a conversation with someone else and we’re just talking and someone just came and tried to slip a business card into both of our hands that were filled with other stuff while we were talking.  We just kind of looked at each other.  I don’t even think I saw the person’s face.  I saw the back of their head.

And just like, really?

First of all, that was kind of rude.

Second of all, I had no idea who this person was and I doubt I would either use their services or even recommend them to anyone.

I think some of that comes from people’s fear of connecting.

You can say, “I went and I gave out 25 business cards.  I networked.”

Don’t be a “drive-by” networker

Diane: Really, it’s how many cards do you get that you had conversation with the person.

You know, you just made me think of something else that I see happen once in a while.  And that is that people inappropriately break into conversations.  You’ve probably heard of this, too—there’s “open” and “closed” networking conversations.

Typically, if two people are facing each other having a conversation, that would be a “closed” conversation and very, perhaps rude, to try to break into a conversation where two people are face-to-face talking.

Now, if they’re kind of at an angle and not facing each other directly, that is an indication that they might be open to having another conversation partner.

Look for “open” conversations to join

If there’s a group of people, sometimes if you just sort of linger on the edge for a little bit,

a) they might invite you in or

b) they may say something that strikes your interest and you can just make a little interjection or say “do you mind if I . . .” whatever.

But to just barge in to a conversation where they’re face-to-face, that’s a private conversation, even in a group.

Tanya: You know, I have one more I’m going to add to this list, this short list that we’re sharing because this happened to me the other day—when people get your business card, they request your business card, which is what the young lady did and what she ended up doing . . . by the time I got home, I had an email that said “Hey, I’ve added you to my newsletter list.”

Apparently she emailed everybody whose business card she took, because I could tell that it had gone to an entire group of people.  “I met you today and I just wanted to add you to my newsletter list.”

I don’t even know what the topic was.

Diane: That’s not permission-based marketing. Newsletters are supposed to be permission-based marketing.  But, what she did you could actually turn and make it acceptable.  If, when she had taken your card, if she had asked, “Could I add you to my newsletter?”  If you had said yes, she could have made a note on your card and have added you to her newsletter with permission.

That’s actually a really good marketing thing that I’ve only just started doing in the past couple of weeks.  I just started a newsletter in January and someone had suggested that well, you have to get permission so why don’t you just ask when you get someone’s card.  I can do that.  I can ask.

But doing it without asking, you’re right.  That is not cool.

Ask for permission to add someone to your data base

Tanya: I liked the idea that you just talked about.  No, she took it as though, hey, I have an interest or someone I can share this with and the next thing I knew I’m on her list.  That’s very rude.

Tai: You can also ask in a follow up email, too.  So, even if you didn’t  ask the person, in person, when you’re setting up  “Hey, it was great meeting you.  If you’re interested, here’s a link for you to be a part of my mailing list.”  That way it’s still opt-in.


Diane’s post on 14 Networking Tips for Shy People

Diane’s book Small Talk Big Results:  Chit Chat Your Way to Success!


About Diane Windingland
I speak for organizations that want their people to have better, more profitable conversations.

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