I received a business card from a networking event. I do what I always do, went to my CRM to add it to my contact list. I wanted to send them a "thank you for coming to our event" email. There was a problem. No last name. I have never, in my career as a sales person, seen the likes of this. I can usually catch someones first name because its usually simple. Bob, Frank, Susie, etc and this one was no different. A simple first name. I know they told me their last name, however I can't remember much less spell it. After hitting the ceiling about not knowing their last name, I thought, I will just look at their email address. Most of the time its first and last name (me excluded), and this is where I really shook my head. There was no email address...
Good networkers typically collect between 3 to 5 business cards for every hour they invest at a networking event. It is important to have a system to process the business cards you collect at networking events, because while you might be able to process 3 to 5 business cards a day, anything over that requires a systematic way to keep up with connections until they become friends and clients.
Step 1: The first thing that I do is prioritize business cards based on the conversations that I have had with people. I start by throwing away the business cards of people that handed me their card, but that we failed to have a conversation. The reason that I throw those business cards out is because I don't know anything about that person and their business, and they choose not to take the time to learn anything about me and my business. For people that I did have a conversation with I write down details about that person in my CRM (see Step 2).
At any networking event there are people that you want to avoid because they cling to you, and prevent you from meeting new people. Usually an effective technique is excusing oneself to refill your drink or using the restroom. However, recently I was resought out after politely excusing myself. "What was i to do now?" I had gone to the restroom and I had a full plate of food. The solution, I handed them my business cards and told them to call me.
This was the perfect solution. By handing them my business card I was able to walk away and continue to network with other people. Most likely the person will never call me, because 99% of the time, people NEVER CALL. If he does call then he will probably be a lead and not a clinger. While I needed to continue to network, I can take the time in a one-to-one meeting if he is interested enough to continue the call.