by Ilya Pozin –
Your post-networking event business card collection may feel noteworthy, but when they get pushed to the back of your desk drawer, they may not be as valuable as you once thought. Be honest: How often do the business cards you receive get put to use?
Take my mentor Tom Antion, for example. He doesn’t use any business cards. Why not? If people need to reach him and it’s that important, they will find a way. As for me, I haven’t had business cards for many years either. Instead, I make a point to ask my new connection to email me. (When I respond, I include my full contact information.)
It’s become normal to see people at networking events in L.A. using their phones to collect contact information right there on the spot. Fast-forward a few years, and it won’t be surprising to find Google Glass-wearing techies exchanging contact information by looking at each other.
Skip the formal and mindless business card exchange if you really want to develop a professional relationship with a new contact. Consider these business-card alternatives:
Use Your Inbox
There’s nothing worse than having to scour your inbox for the contact information of someone you need to call quickly. But with the help from WriteThat.Name, I’ve remedied this annoying task. This helpful tool acts as a personal email assistant to keep all of your contacts automatically updated.
WriteThat.Name scans the signatures of the people you’re emailing, extracts their information, and merges it with contacts on your email and phone. Easy, right? The best part of this tool is that your contacts aren’t just on your phone–they’re also kept safely in the cloud.
At your next meetup, keep things simple by asking new contacts to shoot you an email prior to saying goodbye. This method can be easily implemented with WriteThat.Name and is also a great way to ensure you never miss a chance to follow-up with someone you’ve met.
Let Your Smartphone Do The Work
If you prefer a software solution rather than a business card, Bump might be the app for you. Available for iPhone and Android, this app takes the work out of networking by transmitting information from your phone to your computer. It might be a challenge if you’re looking to Bump contact information from someone who doesn’t have it downloaded–but with 125 million Bump downloads so far, the odds are relatively good you’ll find someone with the same app.
If you’re not quite ready to go completely cardless, try LinkedIn’s CardMunch app. It turns physical business cards into virtual contacts. By snapping a picture of a business card you’ve collected, the picture is immediately converted to a contact. The magic part of this app: It also links contact information directly to your new connection’s LinkedIn profile.
Business cards may not have completely disappeared, but they’re definitely on the way out.
These are just a few alternatives –what do you use?
Image courtesy of Tricia Wang; Flickr
About Ilya Pozin:
Founder of Open Me and Ciplex. Columnist for Inc, Forbes & LinkedIn. Gadget lover, investor, mentor, husband, father, and ’30 Under 30′ entrepreneur. Follow Ilya below to stay up-to-date with his articles and updates!