Few days back I was at a product launch where we met many interesting people, exchanged a lot of business cards when a gentleman asked me what am I going to do with all those business cards?

“I will write to them all and follow up with them”, I Said.

“oh! so you are going to spam their inbox.”, said the gentleman

(well I am probably not thinking of stacking them up and forget about them after six months nor do I plan to use them as face wipes or use these cards to scratch my back)

I wanted to explain to him about the use of business cards and how you make lasting personal and professional relationships if you use them in the right manner. Let’s see how we can use it.

Purpose of the business cards

The first question which comes to my mind is, why do we need business cards at first place? well what they contain is our name, what we do, which organization do we belong to and our contact details. well most of these things we normally state whenever we meet somebody and regarding contacting them, A facebook search can do wonders. so back to square one why do we need business cards? maybe we can use them to showcase our creativity or just because everybody does so or because we don’t want to be tongue tied when somebody asks us for our card. well all of us have our own reasons for it.

We exchanged cards, what now?

well we met and exchanged our cards, but what do we do after this. most of do not know how to follow up from here. what I do is just write a simple follow up mail and hit send. well the perplexing question is “what should I write in the mail when I don’t have anything to talk about (I don’t have any favor to ask him for currently, I will write to him when I need something)”.

Well if you don’t have to ask for something, you have a lots to offer to the other person.

My strategy is to write about the context and build up on the conversation I had when meeting the other person. here is a sample of what you can write to them.

Hi/Dear XYZ,

It was nice to meet you at ABC event, (insert an interesting line or two from the conversation or anything special/appreciative about them which caught your attention)
(let them know how you can offer to help them achieve their goals).

your signature.

Advantages of Following up

1) Very few people write follow up mails. (It shows that out of hundreds of people whom they met only you’ve taken the effort to write to the other person and you are genuinely interested in them).

2) you are offering to help them which will help you earn a brownie point and will be useful, don’t worry most of the times they don’t need your help what counts is you’ve offered to help.

3) whenever you need to connect with them in future you can carry on/continue on the same thread which again reminds them of your association. I am sure if you receive a mail from someone whom you gave your card 3 months ago, there is a high probability that you will not even be able to recollect anything about the person. but if you would’ve received a mail from the person appreciating you or mentioning a positive point about you, you will immediately recollect the conversation and will be more than willing to help the person.

What if I don’t receive a reply from the person

It’s not a big deal, probably this is the first time they have received a follow up mail from someone and they are as confused as how and what should they say in the reply to your mail.

“Spam is the use of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited bulk messages, especially advertising, indiscriminately. While the most widely recognized form of spam is e-mail spam, the term is applied to similar abuses in other media.”

Warning: Don’t worry you are not spamming any one, don’t try to use one format suits all or anything which even remotely fits the above definition.