Bolster Your Business Card

Business Cards

To me, networking events can be overwhelming. I meet dozens of new contacts in a short period of time, and, not being particularly good at remembering names or details of new people in general, I often find it difficult to recall too much about a person once he or she walks away. That’s why I love individuals with good business cards.

I like a card that gives me more than just a company’s name, person’s name, and his or her contact information. Give me a clue about what you do! For instance, my card tells you that I am an Account Executive at Gossett Marketing and that we deal in “Creative Promotions & Products.” It also indicates the professional organizations with which we are affiliated – Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, Advertising Specialty Institute, Promotional Products Information Center, etc. You get the drift.

Aside from content, I love unique designs that make me take notice of my new contacts’ business cards. I recently received one that had a space for notes on the back – no more writing tiny, later-illegible notes to myself! Some have beautiful graphics that are spot varnished. Those are always memorable to me. Others are in unusual sizes or shapes. That style of card isn’t my favorite because it won’t fit in my business card holder, but it does stand out, and there’s something to be said for differentiating yourself. And I actually once received a nail file that served as someone’s card: it’s still in my handbag!

Your business card might be the only thing that your new contact can remember about you, so it should make an impact. Keep that in mind the next time you re-order!

Do your cards stand out? If so, please tell us why in the comments below.

A Good Networking Event?

Networking EventWhat makes a good networking event? I am sure it’s different for everyone. For me, it’s a good combination of people – those I know and don’t know. As well as individuals that are there to meet people – not just sell.

I prefer an event where there are a few people that know me and are willing to make introductions. I find it helps put most people more at ease rather than walking up to a stranger and introducing yourself.

I was at a function recently at the Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove and was introduced to a woman starting a new company. We discussed many aspects of her company and as I offered her my card I told her not to hesitate to contact me with questions or if she felt I could introduce her to some prospects. Her response was surprising. “Wow, at most events I go to, no one ever offers to help. It seems they just want to sell me their products.”

A good reminder for any networking event – it’s give and take. Not all take. How many times have you been at an event when someone interrupts a group to push their business card into your hand with not even an attempt to understand what it is you do or need. First impressions count. So don’t be remembered that way or not at all because I throw those business cards away

While we are all out there trying to make an impression and market our small or large business, we also need to be willing to listen and understand the needs of the people we meet.

Business Events and Halloween

Trick or Treaters Business events are a lot like Halloween. Now I know this sounds weird. But, when you think about it, how weird is trick-or-treating?! You go to people’s doors and ask for candy while wearing a costume – utterly bizarre! However, it is a little bit like attending a networking function! No, I haven’t lost my mind, hear me out.

OK, OK, unlike trick-or-treaters I know that you don’t wear a costume when you’re at your local chamber of commerce…or do you? When I walk into a business breakfast I slap on a grin that I don’t necessarily always feel like wearing – that’s not to say that I don’t want to be there, I’m just not particularly smiley before my second cup of coffee. I don’t misrepresent myself, I just try to act friendlier than I feel. I enhance myself. That super-outgoing side of me? Not the usual Lillian – it’s my costume!

Sadly, conferences don’t necessarily involve candy, but just like you were looking for sweets as a child on Halloween, as an attendee I know you’re after something – business cards! And when you’ve collected them all day, don’t you get back to your office and sort them, just like you did your candy when you were a kid? There are the Reese’s cups of cards – cards you are thrilled to receive from people you were hoping to meet. Then there are the Mystery Flavor Dum-Dums – cards from people who could turn out to be great contacts, but aren’t sure things. And you always get one or two homemade treats – the cards that you throw away just like you would homemade candy (which my mom always said was full of razor blades). Tell the truth – if you attended an event with a coworker, don’t you compare your haul just like you did as a kid?

Think Halloween at your next networking event. Maybe the trick-or-treating comparison will make it more fun. Or maybe you’ll be as confident as you were when you knocked on strangers’ doors all those years ago. Or, better still, maybe someone will actually have candy!

If you need something to talk about at your next business function, check out this YouTube video of a very patient cat wearing Halloween costumes…that’s an ice breaker for you!

Surprise Networking

photo from bustedtees.com

photo from bustedtees.com

I’ve written many posts over the years about what I consider to be “non-traditional networking.” That is, doing your business networking outside of the usual chamber of commerce event. I’ve mentioned the fact that I run with a group of people from all walks of life and we’ve all ended up interacting professionally on some level – taking our relationships beyond sweaty Saturday exercise. I have also espoused bringing business cards to airports, children’s recitals, and the like because you never know where you will meet someone who needs your services and vice versa. Suffice it to say that I am always on the lookout for a networking occasion even when others might not, so it was a nice surprise when another opportunity popped up totally unexpectedly!

I was recently invited to play in a fantasy football league comprised of some of my good friends and several people who I had never met prior to our draft day. Like so many fantasy leagues, we got together for a draft day party and probably had a few too many cocktails as we picked our teams. It was a lot of fun and it gave me a chance to meet some new people and to heckle my old friends for their horrible teams (I’m not a very good sport). Since then I’ve kept in touch with the other members of the league. We text back and forth good-naturedly when our teams match up and occasionally get together to watch football. Like anytime a new group of friends gets together we have all told everyone what we do for a living, and I know that several of my league’s members have referred business to others within the group.

When I was approached about joining my fantasy football league I did so on a lark – I watch a lot of football with my husband so I figured the competition would make it more interesting for me. I had no idea that I would make new friends or much less potentially gain business from the endeavor. It just goes to show you that you should keep your eyes open for networking opportunities absolutely anywhere. Now if you will excuse me, I have to brush up my roster for this week’s match up!

Quality – Not Quantity – Networking

Quality Quantity

In my mind networking is less about quantity and more about quality. Yes, if you attend an event you want to meet several people, but what’s more important than simply exchanging business cards is actually connecting with someone else. You want to get past the perfunctory, “My name is Lillian Osborn and I am an Account Executive with Gossett Marketing…” elevator speech and have an actual conversation. Ask questions, answer questions, have a laugh or two! When you really engage a new contact that is when he or she is going to remember who you are, what you do, and how you can do business together.

When I follow up with the individuals with whom I’ve really connected at networking events, I always find them more receptive and willing to continue that connection. It generally ends up with a meeting, referrals, and increased sales of promotional marketing products.

Do you really try to engage others at networking events? Or does a quick introduction and business card exchange work for you? The latter has never been successful for me, but if it does well by you, please let me know in the comments below – I’d love to learn your tricks!

Are you Working Networking Events

Is there a right way to work a networking event? I must admit, sometimes I marvel at how well some people are able to work a room, while others never seem to move.
I was at the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce Trustee Reception recently at the newly opened Doctors Hospital Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation Center on South Dixie Highway in Coral Gables. It was a great location for the reception – plenty of open space for all the attendees to mix and mingle.
Of course the bar area was quite the popular spot and when I first approached there was a gentleman just standing to the side observing everyone. He wasn’t engaged at all. I saw others I knew nearby and was immediately intercepted to be introduced to some new members. Probably a half hour later I walked back to the bar area and discovered the gentleman was still standing in the same place, seemingly had not moved an inch, still observing, not speaking with anyone.
I introduced myself to him and we discussed his business a bit and exchanged cards. But I couldn’t help but think – Why was he here? He was just waiting for people to come up to him instead of reaching out and engaging others in conversation. I saw him leave shortly after and thought – was my card the only one he received?
I don’t pretend to have the best or right approach to networking. I do understand how many people are shy or unsure how to walk up to a stranger and start a conversation. However, one way that I get over that feeling is to think of myself as the “hostess” of the event. It helps me to get in the right frame of mind to reach out to make everyone feel welcome and for me to introduce myself to those looking lost.
Do you have any networking “tips” to share? Please comment below. dg

What Not to Do After a Networking Event

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I write a lot about networking – heck our blog has a whole category dedicated to it – so I always wonder if our readers think that the Gossett Marketing team is obsessed with building our business network. In a word: yes. Networking takes a lot of our time, effort, and dedication, but we firmly believe that it’s worth the endeavor, as it helps us grown in our community and beyond. If you’re not already a dedicated networker, then it’s time to start so that you can expand your business’s reach (and ultimately its profitability).

Regardless as to whether you’re new to business networking or if it’s old hat to you, I think everyone can brush up on networking etiquette. Last week I discussed what not to do during an event, so this week I’m focusing on what not to do afterwards. Here we go…

1. Nothing – You went to a networking event, met new people, and took their business cards back to work with you. Don’t just leave that contact information on your desk, never to be viewed again; rather, follow up with the people you met! Send a quick e-mail, invite them to connect on LinkedIn, give them a call, or even tweet them. Reinforce the bond you made at the networking event so that you can begin to forge a real relationship.
2. Too Much – On the opposite end of the spectrum from those who do nothing post-event are those who do too much. These are the folks who send an e-mail, then give the recipient a call an hour later just to be sure that they’d gotten it. And who not only connect on LinkedIn but start filling your Twitter feed and continually comment on your blog posts. These people mean well, but it’s overwhelming and, well, feels a bit stalker-ish. Ultimately, this strategy backfires, as the person with whom they are so desperately trying to bond begins to avoid the avid follow-upper!
3. Be a Robot – Now that you know the right amount of follow up, be sure that you’re doing the right kind. Often after networking with someone I, get a form e-mail saying things like “it was nice to meet you at the recent Chamber of Commerce event.” What event? What did we talk about? Do I really want to build a relationship with someone who can’t take the time to write a personalized e-mail? Absolutely not! But if I get an e-mail saying something like, “it was wonderful to sit with you at lunch yesterday, I enjoyed learning about the promotional products industry…” then chances are I will respond to the sender. He has taken the time to absorb our discussion and write me a personal e-mail, which shows me that his networking effort was genuine – I’m happy to consider someone like that a part of my network!

What it all boils down to is that you need to behave like a normal human being both before and after a networking event. I know that sounds strange, but treat others as you’d like to be treated, don’t bother them, but also don’t ignore them, and connect with them. That’s really what it takes to successfully network!

Football Fever!

picture from borntocompete.com

picture from borntocompete.com

It is a crazily hectic week here at Gossett Marketing. It is also the start of both college and professional football seasons. I searched our blog archive for “football” and as it turns out, we write about it a lot! Take a gander at our football-related posts – hopefully they will inspire you from a promotional products or networking standpoint.

 

What does the NFL’s new bag policy have to do with your marketing? Click here.

Here’s how the Super Bowl taught me that it’s always worthwhile to network. Check it out.

Vanderbilt’s head football coach has business cards that are, well, badass and you need some too! How cool are these cards?!

A bad football game at the beginning of the year was very good for Miami. It didn’t go so well for Notre Dame.

This is a fun, real-world example of effective, timely use of promotional marketing products. T-shirts for all!

HBO’s Hard Knocks tried to instill faith in the Miami Dolphins. It didn’t really work.

Wacky, football themed promotional products. These are really odd.

College football mania means plenty of tailgating! And that means plenty of promotional products!

Temporary tattoos make your customers into your promotional products. They’ll wear your logo!

Finally, here are some great promotional products for game day. You need these.

 

Next week things will be calmer around these parts and I will share shiny, new posts!

Another Chance to Make a Good (or bad) Impression

Business Cards In this portion of the blog, I discuss business networking, both online and off, because I think that it is such an important way to expand your professional network. I’ve touched on the fact that networking doesn’t have to happen in a formal setting, that following up is key, that connecting online is perfectly valid this day in age, and that if you are at a true networking event it is essential to dress professionally. I actually tend to harp on the last point because I think that if you want to be taken seriously, you need to look the part. I’ve had several people disagree with me about this, but I hold to it. My strong feelings on the topic might have something to do with the fact that people actually show up to Miami networking events in lingerie – and that’s no joke. I’m sorry, but I can’t see myself wanting to do business with someone who looks like she is part of the world’s oldest profession!

OK, so clearly I’m adamant about looking polished at networking events, and you can agree with me or not on that point. If you disagree about your sartorial choices being important when you’re networking, then you’ll probably disagree with me about this too: I think that your business cards need to be just as neat and tidy as you are when you network.

Hear me out about this before you stop reading, please! I’m all for a funky business card that differentiates you from your competition. In fact, I’ve written a post praising badass cards that are unique and interesting. What I mean about your card being neat and tidy is that when you hand it to someone, it should be clean and wrinkle-free. It shouldn’t look like it has been swimming in the bottom of your handbag for three months because that makes it appear as if you don’t care about the type of impression you are making to new business contacts. Similarly, hand out your own card – not ones that you’ve borrowed/stolen from your coworker, crossed his name out and replaced it with your information. That just looks tacky and makes you seem unprepared, which is not a great impression.

As shallow as it may seem to some, your appearance plays a part when you network. So I strongly suggest making sure that yours – from your grooming to your clothing and down to the business cards that you hand out – is polished. And for goodness sake, no networking in your underwear!

Bring Your Business Card

business card I have a confession to make: I talk to strangers. I don’t actively seek to do so – you’re not going to see me on the sidewalk looking for people I don’t know with whom I may strike up a conversation. But if we’re stuck in the security line at the airport side-by-side for 45 minutes, chances are I’m going to remark that I don’t understand why some people wear their most complicated boots to fly (really, why do people do that? You know you’re going to have to take them off!). Or if I think your sweater is particularly cute, I’ll certainly let you know it. I try not to be annoying (I’m not the girl who sits next to you on a plane and keeps on yakking even though you have your nose in your book, I promise), but I guess I’m just chatty. Fortunately it comes in handy sometimes.

As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, I live very close to a great restaurant/bar called Sports Grill. My husband and I have spent many a Sunday afternoon there eating chicken wings, and cheering on the Miami Dolphins. We always sit at the bar, so there is always someone next to either one of us, and we usually end up talking to one or both of them. Like conversations with strangers usually go, someone inevitably asks everyone’s line of work, and just by sitting at that bar my husband and I have met an executive with Cartier, local politicians, a maritime attorney, plus plenty of tipsy college kids and other generally crazy people. Very often the people we encounter decide that they can use promotional marketing products and ask for my card, which is why I am sure to always have some on me. While I can’t say that any business has come from my football Sundays at the bar, it’s worth a shot!

And it’s not just to Sports Grill that I bring my business cards: they’re in every one of my handbags. As a chatty person who isn’t shy about talking to total strangers, I have to be prepared! I’m always shocked, then, that so many of the professional people I meet randomly don’t carry theirs. While I understand that they didn’t expect to meet the weirdly-talkative girl in line at the airport, what if their dream customer was the one who was forced to stand next to them for 45 minutes? What a blown opportunity it would be if they couldn’t hand him their information! The whole world is a networking opportunity – so be sure to bring your business cards!

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