Pieces of Gold: What To Do When You Get A Business Card
by Larry Bodine
I know where you keep your business cards. Theyíre in little piles on your desk, buried under other papers, just where you left them when you returned from that recent conference or event. Or in the drawer where you tossed them so you can find it right when you need it.
Youíve created a junkyard of information Ė a business development disaster. Instead you need to realize that the moment you receive a personís business card youíve obtained a piece of gold. Why?
Donít treat a business card like a scrap of paper. Be intentional about your business development and be meticulous in your record-keeping. By the time you have 4,000 or 5,000 records in your contact list, youíll be sitting on a hilltop of gold.
Step One: The Golden Moment
When you get the personís card, stop and read it. Take a few seconds. Notice the personís title and comment on it. If itís clever or unusual in any way, make a point of it. Some people spend hours designing their business cards and will appreciate it if you notice. Check if it lists the personís cell phone number; you may need it one day. Make certain you get the personís website URL and email address if itís not on the card.
As your conversation closes, turn the card over and write the date on the back of the card, where you are, and what you talked about. Make sure to note any follow-up promises you made. You must write this information down, because I assure you youíll have completely forgotten it by the time to return to the office. Moreover, doing so is flattering to the person who gave you the card, because youíve made the receipt of the card an event. You took time to make it important.
Step Two: Starting Your Data Bank
Either you or your assistant must immediately enter the information into your Outlook Contacts list. The most important part is the Notes box: type in what you wrote down on the card. In the future you will be adding information in this box as you learn the contactís family names, favorite interests, dislikes and avocations.
The reason the information must go into Outlook Contacts is because it is searchable and sortable. Unless you have a photographic memory, and Iím betting you donít, the personís name may escape you, but youíll remember the company where they worked or the event where you met. To find the person, all you need to do is enter key words into the ďSearch ContactsĒ box and bingo: youíve found them. This will be very important when you have thousands of contacts. If you keep cards in a desk drawer or a stack with a rubber band around it, you canít do a search like this.
Suppose you are flying to New York and want to contact other people when you arrive. Simply type in ďNew YorkĒ in the Search Contacts box and only those contacts will display on the screen. The same goes if you are searching for all your contacts at a particular company, or everyone you met at a particular event.
Whatever you do, donít rely on your memory for this information. Relationship building can take a long time. Frequently I get a voicemail message from someone, say ďCindy,Ē who doesnít leave her last name, mentions that we talked six months ago, and is now ready to proceed with the matter we discussed. Cindy might even forget to leave her phone number and caller ID hasnít captured it. If I were relying on my memory, Iíd come up blank. But instead I go into contacts and search every ďCindyĒ Iíve met or type in appropriate keywords and I instantly find her. Now I can phone her back and pick up where we left off, as if it were yesterday.
Step Three: Forming a Relationship
Your goal now is to develop a relationship, and you need data to do this. The reason rainmakers are successful is that they have more relationships than other lawyers; new business comes in through relationships. The key to a successful business relationship is knowing a lot about the other person.
So find out and record:
Step 4: Linking Them In
If you havenít already, go to http://www.linkedin.com/ and create a profile about yourself. Itís free. Then immediately invite your contact to be in your network. This is especially important when you meet journalists, prospects and prominent individuals. Inviting a person into your network is as easy as clicking buttons on a website and it shows that youíre hip, modern, and even tech-savvy. Your goal is to get 500 connections. I have 247 connections so far that link me to 2,287,400 other people.
If someone invites you to be in their LinkedIn network, accept it. Ignore invitations from Pulse, Facebook, MySpace or the other online social networks. Then learn how to use LinkedIn to get clients and make money. Visit the website of Jill Konrath and click to download her 14-page eBook now -- itís all about increasing sales with LinkedIn.
In life, and in the marketing of a law practice, who you know is more important than what you know. And it all starts with that golden moment when someone puts a business card in your hand.
Copyright © 2004-2009 Larry Bodine
Larry Bodine is a Business Development Advisor based in Glen Ellyn, IL. He has helped law firms generate millions in new revenue by devising strategies, conducting business development retreats and individually coaching attorneys. He can be reached at 630.942.0977.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.