Tag Archives: networking

Business Card Etiquette

Your business card is a major component of your corporate marketing strategy.  It is a mini-billboard for your business and tells prospective customers how they can reach you.

How your card looks is critical.  How you present it to people is pivotal.  The information it contains enables people to contact you.  Let’s dig into the details.

Business card presentation

1)  The look of your card.  Your corporate logo should be prominent on your business card.  Call it brand recognition.  Your name is also critical, so make sure it’s spelled correctly when you proof the card (Yes, ask for a proof and proofread your card before authorizing printing).  Your title is less important than the information on how to reach you.  If you want people to call, make sure your phone number is there.  Your address is vital if you operate a retail store.  Your website and E-mail are important if you want people to contact you through those electronic channels.

On a side note, make sure your website reflects the image you convey on your business card to reinforce your brand identity.

2)  Presenting your card.  How you hand out your card is a key presentation element.  If you attend a networking event, having a good supply of business cards readily accessible is a key to success in discovering potential clients or referral sources.  Practice pulling out your card from your purse, pocket, or other storage place so you can grab the card without looking at it and present it properly.  Hand the card to the other person so the information is easily seen and creates a positive brand impression right away.  If they are good at networking, they will accept your card and look more closely at it to digest your information and ask questions to stimulate the conversation.  Be polite and ask for their card, too, and if you want to make a note about them afterwards, proper etiquette is to ask their permission to write on their card.  Note:  It’s not a good idea to start writing on their card without asking first.

3.  It’s about information.  Your card should contain essential information and not leave the recipient guessing how they can follow-up with you.  Even though your company may have a myriad of phone lines coming in, highlight the dominant number that you accept calls on.  The impression people get when they call the corporate number and have to wade through a robo-operator to get your extension and voice mail message is that you don’t want their business.  Callers like to talk to a real person right away.  The same holds true for an E-mail address.  Make sure the one you give people on your card is one you check regularly, and when you get an E-mail from someone you’ve met, at least acknowledge that you received it.  As much as we rely on electronic communication techniques in today’s business environment, people still like to interact with people.

Your business card is the leave behind you have to create an impression with someone you’ve met face-to-face.  It’s also a symbol of your brand identity, so present it properly.  Keep in mind it can also be used as a reminder when you mail a letter to someone.  It’s considerate to include two cards in a letter, one for the recipient and one for them to give to a potential referral.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand

F-2-F Marketing

What seems to be a dying art – being face-to-face with someone – is still relevant for marketing your business.  For those of us who enjoy interaction with other people, the trend toward faces down with eyes glued to the small screen is annoying.

Business people texting

Sure, texting and the other tasks you can accomplish on your smart phone seem to increase efficiency and enable us to do more, but does the fascination with being connected all the time detract from reality?  How often do you see people in restaurants on their mobile devices when there’s a live, breathing person seated across from them?

Who is more important than the person you’re with at the moment?

There, we’ve exposed the secret to face-to-face (F-2-F) marketing:  Be in the moment with the person you’re with!

F2F image

If that person is someone you’ve never met before, you should get to know them for a number of reasons:

  • Are they a potential customer?
  • Do they have valuable connections?
  • Are they someone you can trust with your business?
  • Could they refer people to you?
  • Are they a reliable resource?

If the person you’re face-to-face with is someone you already know, how well do you know them?  Do you know what they like to read?  Where they live?  How they earn a living?  What they enjoy doing in their leisure time?  Why they do what they do?

We can learn so much by being open to F-2-F discussions with other people.  It may be awkward at first, but you begin by approaching someone and introducing yourself.  Remember: They may be as bashful as you are when they’re approached.

Ask them their name, and try to remember it.  A technique that we’ve found to work well is to repeat their name several times in the first few minutes of your conversation.

Ask where they work and what they do.  Be genuinely interested in their answers.  Pay attention and avoid distractions, such as looking for someone you’ve been dying to meet.  That’s rude.

Ask why they do what they do, how long they’ve been doing it, and maybe even how they got into doing what they do.  You may discover a rather fascinating story that leads you into a deeper relationship and potential friendship.  You may share a favorite cuisine or vacation destination.

We struck up a conversation with a couple on a flight and showed interest in them going to help their son open a new restaurant on the east coast.  Before the flight was over, they had pulled out the business plan and financial statements for us to look at!

The point of a F-2-F meeting may be to get acquainted, conduct business, close a sale, or to share camaraderie.  Avoid being in a rush as much as you can.  Take the time to enjoy the conversation.  Assume you will learn something new.  Crave knowledge.

If you’re face-to-face with a customer or prospect, concentrate on the individual and what his/her needs seem to be.  If you’re unclear, ask clarifying questions.  Get down to what they want and you’ll enjoy far greater success with higher closing ratios.

In our next blog we’ll cover the topic of Handling Customer Complaints.  Stay tuned.

Practice the 3-foot rule:  If someone is within three feet of you, they should know what you do.  If they’re beyond three feet, get closer.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand




In an earlier post, we talked about how to work a room when you’re networking.  If you were fortunate to meet an excellent potential client or referral source at that event, your key to success with a networking marketing strategy is follow-up!

Do you have a marketing strategy for networking?  For following up?

Assume you had an interesting conversation with an accountant who, you discover, has years of experience working with the types of companies you want to connect with.  Assume this accountant has been looking for someone like you to whom they can refer some of their clients who need your services.  Assume this accountant also seemed pleased with your responses to her questions and asked you to call and set up an appointment to get together for a smoothie or coffee.  That connection alone made attending the event worth the entire evening, in your opinion.

Now let’s assume it’s a week later and you have yet to make that follow-up phone call.  In the book of right ways to do things, that follow-up phone call should have been made within 24 hours of the event.  The preference would have been to pull up the calendars on your smart phones and make the appointment right there on the spot, but if that wasn’t done, the call needed to be made the next day.  Having a time frame for following up, and how it’s done are part of a networking marketing strategy.

How do you handle the fact you messed up on following up?  Here are some scenarios:

  • You make the call and humbly apologize, paying attention to the tone of her voice to determine if there’s a coldness to her response, which is also verified by whether she still wants to meet with you.  She may meet, but is likely to be skeptical of your ability to follow-up with her referrals in light of how you followed up with her, meaning she may be hesitant to refer clients to you;
  • You wait for her to call you and, if she does, express your confusion about whether you were supposed to call or she was.  If she calls, she is obviously still interested, so stay on top of the relationship from there on out;
  • You avoid making the call and anticipate you will run into her again at the next networking event.  Be prepared to eat humble pie if she shows up at that one or any of the next events where you may both be in attendance.  You may have a ready excuse, but it may carry little weight in convincing her you really are good at following up with people, and she may have already made a different alliance that shuts you out of getting any potential business referred to you;
  • You call her with a referral for her, and apologize for the delay with an excuse that you were working on the referral before you followed up.  It might work if she appreciates the referral, especially if she can convert it into business; or,
  • You write it off as a lost cause, toss her card in the recycling bin, and kiss the potential referrals business good-bye.

Which scenario would you be most comfortable using a week after meeting someone?  Which is most likely to nurture that relationship and lead to referrals?

How much easier is it to carve a few minutes out of your busy schedule to grab your phone, dial the number, and exude enthusiasm for having met the person last night?  Make that part of your networking strategy.

Follow-up is easy if done promptly.

Two quick examples of what it can mean for your business:

Trying to scrap an old vehicle, I contacted a salvage yard that had been recommended to me.  Several phone calls and voice mail messages failed to get a response.  I contacted one I had used before and they were on site within an hour, gave me a fair price and hauled off the vehicle.  I heard from the first one an hour after the vehicle was gone.  Too bad, so sad.

Looking for a plumber, I contacted two in the community where the work needed to be done.  The same scenario of waiting for a call back played out, until I called the second one.  The first had been highly recommended so I was giving them the benefit of the doubt.  Within an hour after contacting the second, the first finally called after more than a week.  Yes, I understand plumbers can be busy people, but a courtesy phone call does wonders to build credibility and that level of trust you expect from contacting a business.

Part of your corporate marketing strategy should be to carve out a brief time period every day to make those follow-up phone calls or to merely follow-up on whatever you need to follow through on. Your customers, prospects, and referral sources will appreciate it.

Are You Really Who You Say You Are?

There are business owners out there who believe they, and their business, are one thing when they really are something else.  The problem creeps in when they start telling people who they are and the customers (and the public in general) discover the business is entirely different than how it’s portrayed.


This, on the surface, appears to be a public relations disaster waiting to happen.  It is more commonly known as marketing myopia, and can be corrected.  That’s the good news!

A common example is the owner of a business that sells insurance.  The type of insurance has little significance, primarily because whatever the type of insurance is offered to potential customers, roughly half of the population will have an adverse reaction to the term “insurance.”  The same percentage, give or take a few percentage points, applies to car sales, real estate agents, consultants, plumbers, and virtually every other occupation.  Why?  More on that later.

Think about insurance in its most basic form for a minute.  Insurance is protection for the purchaser from some accident, death, or the negligence of some other party.  Except in the case of dying, the owner can rest assured that his or her property is covered against a loss.  When the policy holder dies, the insurance is intended to take care of loved ones, although it can never replace the companionship that is lost.

What is the end result of having a policy?  Peace of mind.  The ability to sleep well at night.    Reduced risk in case of loss.  Protection.  What is that insurance agent selling, from the customer’s point-of-view?  Pick one of the above, such as peace of mind.

Before we move on to other examples, let’s go back to the reason why so many people have an adverse reaction to various professional occupations.  If you had a painful experience in the dentist’s chair when you were a child, how positive are you likely to feel about dentists in general?  Over the years since, you’ve probably shared your uncomfortable experience and fear with countless other people. You probably wait to go see a dentist until you have cavities or need a root canal, which creates another less-than-pleasant experience … and the cycle continues.

Any person who’s had a bad experience with an insurance agent or policy claim has done the same thing, so the more types of insurance and agents that are in business, the greater the chances of bad experiences.  We tend to forget the good experiences, so it becomes natural to have apprehension about various occupations, especially those involving sales.  People don’t like to be sold; they like to make their own decisions.

Consultants are another good example.  Business owners shy away from consultants because they have the single perception that a consultant is going to cost them money.  The truth is a consultant should help a business make money!

Let’s look at some more examples.

If you operate a tavern and someone asks what you do, do you tell them you run a bar or serve alcohol to get people drunk?  Maybe.  Would it sound better if you explained that you’re in the business of providing entertainment in a fun, relaxed environment?  People can drink alcohol anywhere.  What you provide is an experience.

As a restaurant owner, do you tell people you run a restaurant?  Yes, it’s true that’s what you do, but what they’re really looking for is the answer to why you do what you do.  Try telling people you provide delicious food and exceptional service in a family friendly or cozy, candle-lit environment … whatever’s appropriate for your establishment.  The right answer is far more likely to pique a person’s curiosity and be interested in giving you business than the fact you run a restaurant.

A carpet cleaning business helps people keep their living spaces clean and healthy.

A website company creates a global presence and market place.

A gas station enables car owners to keep driving their vehicles.

A plumber reduces the risk of water damage or ensures a clean supply of drinking water.

It’s our hope this has opened your eyes, and minds, to taking the time to think about what it is provide as a product or service to customers.  A manufacturer of baseball bats turns pieces of wood into sporting equipment but, from the consumer’s perspective, offers a quality product to play a game at a professional level.

Contact Brand Irons if you’d like some help sifting through the jumble of what you offer so you can concentrate on telling people what it is you provide to them