Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Business Cards and Networking Basics - The Currency of Meetings, Training and Conferences

Professional networking is something all generations (old and new - baby boomers, millennials, gen x and gen y) need to understand and participate in for building careers, sharing ideas and generating opportunities. While social media and other venues such as LinkedIn are great for building a professional network there is no substitute for face to face, handshaking experiences of live meetings, training, and conferences. Recently I attended an IIA Chapter meeting held in a restaurant. The meetings are scheduled in a banquet room and they are set up with a number of tables, place settings etc. As soon as attendees arrive they begin by getting a drink and salads/appetizers. They then choose a table and sit (usually with their company peers). I am a firm believer that professional meetings should start with a meet and greet in order to network and work the room for new faces as well as old. Coming into a room where the tables are arranged and set is not conducive to networking. As it was apparent that people had already chosen their tables and were glued to their seats I had little choice but to do the same. I greeted my table mates, exchanged names and gave them my business card. The new people I met, awkwardly said they did not have business cards with them. Is this the next generation of leaders that see no need for a business card? When I am lucky enough to receive a business card from someone I try to learn something about them and then make a note on the back of the card for future reference. It is a great way to build your network and find people with shared interests or those who may have knowledge that you can tap into down the road.  Unfortunately I see this repeated when I go to conferences or training events. 

As the title of this post suggests business cards are currency and you can use them as a reminder of an individuals name, company, title and most importantly contact information. You can put them in your pocket for later reference to add into your networking database or list of contacts. Like currency when you need them you can withdraw them for follow up, advice or opportunities. Business cards are quite inexpensive to produce and they should be a staple in you networking tool box. More importantly meeting organizers and planners should incorporate a networking time perhaps in an area outside where the meal is served. Have the bar and some light appetizers so that attendees can mingle and meet new faces, share their business cards and develop new contacts.  

I am interested in what others have to say and share their experiences with business cards and networking. It may seem a bit old fashioned but it is definitely a way for all professionals to build and maintain a network. You never know when you need that network so why not make it a part of every business situation you experience!

If want other tips for networking and audit resources and tools check out AuditNet!