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What To Do With All These Business Cards!

effective business card designI get this question a lot. Someone has a pile of business cards on their desk and no idea what to do with them? Should they contact everyone? Scan them? If so, using what scanner/system? Maybe it would make the most sense to just throw them all out?

If this sounds like you, don’t despair. I do have some practical advice to offer to get that pile of business cards under control.

Let’s start with how many you actually bring back to the office. Contrary to some popular beliefs, you don’t have to keep every business card you receive. While at an event or during a meeting, when you receive a card, ask yourself the following questions to uncover if┬áthe person has client or referral potential.

  1. Do they need you?
  2. Do you need them (now or in the future)?
  3. Do they work with the same types of clients you do?
  4. Are they a potential resource for your clients?
  5. Are they someone you can connect to other people in your network?

If the answer to all of those questions is no, I’d suggest tossing the card. A card which adds no value to you or your network probably isn’t worth keeping.

Now that you’ve sorted cards into the keep/no keep piles, what to do with the keepers?

When possible, I recommend writing notes on the cards as soon as possible, during the event even, if you can take a quick break. Note why you are keeping the card and/or any actions you’ve promised to take. You’ll want to incorporate those notes into your database.

When you get back home or to your office, process the cards as soon as possible. This keeps them from piling up too high. The bigger the pile, the longer you will procrastinate processing them.

There are lots of ways you can handle them once you have them back at your desk. Some people love physical card holders, subdivided by category. If that’s you, great. Go have fun buying the coolest card holder you can find. The more you like it, the more you’ll use it.

If you want to keep the electronically, you’ll need some sort of scanner. There are lots to choose from, and I’m no expert. Amazon reviews will be your friend here. You can also use your phone. Lots of apps exist for scanning cards and adding them to your phone contacts. I’m a fan of using Evernote for this purpose. If you have a Premium Evernote plan, you can scan cards. Evernote does a decent job of taking the scan and turning it into a contact entry, which you can retain in Evernote and/or add to your phone contacts. Evernote retains an image of the card, so you can toss the physical version, if you’d like. If you already use Evernote for other organizational or task management purposes, it’s another way to keep everything in one place.

However, if you use Salesforce or some other contact management system, you’ll want to upload the scanned cards into that system.

There, now you have your cards organized and out of the big pile on your desk. Come back next week when I’ll talk about some ways to do follow up with all those cards and stay in front of your database.