How to make sure your card doesn’t wind up in THIS pile
Do you have a box that looks like this? Business cards you’ve collected over the weeks, months, or years that have yet to be recorded, added to your mailing list, or followed up upon? Perhaps the cards you’ve collected are a bit less organized. How many business cards and little bits of paper with the contact info from interesting people you’ve met in your travels do you have in piles on your desk, in your wallet, and strewn throughout your purse or briefcase? As my financial advisor friend Todd Smith once pointed out, would you leave little piles of money lying about? That’s what you’re doing when you don’t follow up and have a way to connect with people regularly.
In October 2011, we wrote a post about building your your email list. Here are some of the other important questions we posed in that post:
- How big is your list?
- How accurate is your list? Are the names and addresses current, or do half of them kick back as undeliverable?
- How niched is your list? Is your list made up of everyone you have ever met, or do you have it categorized so that you can send marketing messages about your book to the people who will actually want to buy it?
- How regularly do you update your list? How often do you toss the bad addresses and add new ones?
- Do you have your list organized into an A-B-C system? A indicates the individuals who have expressed direct interest in your book or subject matter. B are the people with whom you have a personal connection, but who may not have a direct interest in your book or industry. C are those folks who are one step from elimination. You met them, but don’t remember where, and just happen to have their card in your pile.
- How often do you contact your list?
- How many different ways do you connect with your list? If you’re relying only on e-mail, you’re missing a significant opportunity to impact your list. But, in order to be able to send the very effective occasional greeting card (or contact them by other channels), you will need to collect more than just their e-mail address.
Following that reminder, my major question to you is:
How do you keep your card from staying out of such a pile?
The answer, quite simply, is: Be the first to follow up. Trust me, it works! I attended a networking luncheon yesterday, just a few days after sending out my newsletter. Out of 40 or so women there – not all of whom are on my mailing list – three approached me and told me they appreciate my newsletter, two asked me about the process of writing a book, and one of those indicated she may be ready to begin working with me after the first of the year. All were, at one point, strangers whose cards I had to add to my list.
I will admit that the cards in the picture at the top of this post belong to yours truly. So just know, this has been an evolving process for me. I’m much better at follow up now than I used to be! Guess when I collected those cards? Would you believe it was 2009?
The good news for you is that it’s never too late to follow up. I found in my research of the individuals belonging to these cards that many of them have changed jobs, careers, or moved away from Phoenix. But I can still find – and connect with – most of them via LinkedIn. So maybe they never made it to my mailing list. Email is a good way but not the only way to connect with people.
Ways you can follow up:
- phone call
- snail mail
Some of the success of following up is in knowing how best to reach out to specific people. That may be a hit-or-miss process, unless you got to know the person pretty well on the first contact. But the most important thing is having a process at all. Develop one, and use it! I guarantee it will make all the difference in your success.
Here’s to a staying out of the random box of cards!
We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.
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