3 Things You Aren’t Doing With Business Cards You’ve Received

More than 10 million business cards are printed in the U.S. each year. But what are we doing with these business cards? It turns out, nothing. Statistics show that 90 percent of these business cards are tossed in the trash within a week of being received.

I’m sure we’re all guilty of throwing away a business card or two. But today, let’s live by a new rule: Don’t take someone’s business card if you don’t plan to take any action afterward.

Business cards should be used as a valuable networking tool. Although most of us now use a digital address book, when in a networking situation handing out a physical business card is much faster and more professional. It also adds more legitimacy to your business or profession.

Next time you receive a business card, do the following three things with it when you get back to the office.

1. Put the contact’s information in your address book. 

As I previously mentioned, most of us have digital address books, whether it’s in our phone, on our computer, or in the cloud. However you manage your contacts, be sure to enter your new contact information into an address book as soon as you get back to your office! Although you might not have an immediate need for this contact right now, you never know when having their connection may come in handy. For those smartphone owners, there are some great apps out there such as WorldCard, which can use your phone’s camera, recognize most of the text in a business card and automatically create a contact in your phone.

2. Research him or her on social networks. 

The great thing about the Internet is that we can find almost anyone via social networks. Search for your new contact online to see how you might be connected to them. Perhaps you have a mutual contact you didn’t know about, or maybe they used to work at a company you’re very interested in. If you find something interesting, make note of that in your address book so you don’t forget down the road. As a quick reminder, you would want search for the contact in Google and LinkedIn (although many times when you Google someone, their LinkedIn profile shows up first or second).

3. Contact them within 24 hours of meeting them.

This is the absolute best thing you can do with your newly acquired business card: contact them! In the business world, it’s always about who you know. So send a quick email or make a phone call to express how nice it was to meet them. Later, you can update each other on new business developments, jobs, or connect them with someone else in your network. Try to refer back to the conversation you had when you met in your email or phone call. Always make sure you bring something of value to the conversation — be it a relevant article you found on the Web, or a useful contact, make sure you add something to the relationship.

A business card may seem like a small piece of paper, and therefore a small gesture. But if taken in the right way, business cards can open up potential job opportunities, business ventures or partnerships, or simply new cohorts in your industry.

How have business cards benefited you in your career?

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