Today’s guest post is by TBEX speaker Andy Hayes, who has some tips for those attending any of our networking sessions.
When I attended my first “business networking” event, a local government-sponsored organization in Scotland about 5 years ago, I witnessed a lot of tomfoolery. When you put 25 newly minted business owners in a room, you’re bound to feel like you’re in a live action comedy skit.
Unfortunately, to this day I attend networking groups and “speed dating” events, only to find that people have not learned. Before you attend this year’s TBEX networking sessions, take a minute and think about the kind of impression you want to leave on your PR contacts as well as travel blogging colleagues, both new and old.
One thing that causes me to chuck more often than not is the topic of business cards. The following are 5 real, genuine incidents I’ve experienced in recent memory – most of them travel bloggers. No names are shamed, but take my advice and skip these snafus.
Yes, this really is my business card.
1. “Here, take one. I’m trying to get rid of them.”
A travel blogger mentioned this to me at Blogworld in 2010, before mentioning it to the next four people I was standing next to. If she was “trying to get of them” so desperately, then remind me again why I would want one?
Your goal at TBEX is not to give out a certain number of cards. Your goal is to make connections and build relationships. Quality, not quantity folks.
2. “Sorry I just printed these last night.”
This was one of those awkward moments where I was sharing a networking appointment at an event with another travel journalist. It was a little embarrassing to see their lack of professionalism, which started with the whole business card thing, but carried through the entire appointment.
Forgot your cards? Ran out and had to buy extra? No problem. Don’t highlight it. Most people won’t notice.
Speaking of running out….
3. “Sorry, I don’t have a card.”
This happens to the best of us. You forget your cards, or you run out, or they are still in your luggage which has taken a detour to Keystone via Bogota. All you need to do is to grab a notebook and write up a few scraps of paper with your name/twitter handle/email/phone. Then you’ve transformed that into a “Sorry I’ve ran out of my cards, but here’s my information so we can stay in touch.”
It’s not the most professional substitute, but it shows potential connections that you mean business and won’t let a small glitch get in the way.
I can’t tell you how many networking events I’ve been to where someone I never spoke to, who wasn’t a speaker or a sponsor, just handed me a card and walked off without saying anything. It’s weird, right?
At events like SXSW, I see people spraying their business cards everywhere. It’s such a waste, you might as well drop them in the recycling bin yourself.
I’m sure if you hand out enough cards to strangers, someone will call with some paying work. That is an awfully expensive way to go about finding work, though.
5. “Before we talk, can I see your business card?”
Yup, this happened last year at Blogworld in LA. It made me feel really icky, as if the quality of my entire being was going to be judged solely by my card alone. I might point out that at this point, just post-handshake, the travel blogger didn’t even know if I was a PR person or a blogger or a sponsor or random-person-from-street. Slightly aggressive move, right?
Maybe they were nervous. Or maybe they were a jerk. I’ll never know; I didn’t hear back from them afterwards, so I guess my card wasn’t good enough.
Over to you: what’s the weirdest/worst thing you’ve seen someone do with their business cards?
Andy Hayes is a published travel author, entrepreneur, and busy IT consultant. He blogs about Edinburgh, Scotland and value luxury travel. Connect with him before TBEX on his personal site, andyhayes.com or via Twitter, @andrewghayes.