My networking always seems to hit a serious speed bump. During a successful speaking event or conference, I meet interesting people and learn about them, their companies and their needs. In the moment I mentally evaluate if and where we might help each other. I leave the event feeling productive and expanded. But then… I hit that speed bump (or sometimes a complete dead end). The next steps with these new contacts lie in the stack of business cards that invariably sit on my desk or in my briefcase. By the time I set aside “administration time” to log these cards, I have forgotten all those insights, mental notes and even lead qualification.
At a business networking meeting last week, I met Dean Chen, President and Founder of pxocard, a cool new technology that allows your paper business card to be scanned digitally into any popular mobile device (iPhone, Blackberry, Android or any Windows mobile device). Rather than giving an elevator pitch, Dean introduced himself by producing his business card, grabbing my phone and “reading” the bar code on the back of the card (using the free Microsoft TagReader app). Instantly all Dean’s contact information was loaded into my contacts list – I was sold!
I see pxocard as a great find not just in terms of the technology or the time savings. The great power in pxocard is in the live conversations it can generate with prospects and other new contacts. Because this product and the technology is new, conducting a brief demo establishes you as technologically savvy, serious with networking, and guarantees that you are in the digital rolodex (and memory) of your new prospect.
Your Next Best Three Steps:
All relationships begin with a conversation. These days conversations start not from meeting someone at a conference, but from connecting online through chirps and tweets. Social media has changed the way we communicate – it allows Joe Smith to direct message Barack Obama on Twitter. And whether or not Obama reads your tweet, it’s nice to know you can DM him.
But what happened to picking up the phone and knowing what a person’s voice sounds like? The other day, a company partner sent an email message IN ALL CAPS indicating that I hadn’t responded to him in years. When I reached him on the phone almost immediately, he asked, “didn’t you get my IM’s, DM’s and posts?” My response, “did you call me- I don’t have any urgent messages?” I know we all like to have streams of long email chains clogging up our inbox.
The point is that chirps and tweets, second lives, wikis and foursquaring are an important dance business owners need to have, but if email, DMs and the like aren’t working, just pick up the phone. Have REAL conversations. Sites like LinkedIn has made it possible for me to contact potential customers and partners that I wouldn’t normally have access to or take longer than I had patience to make contact with. But, you know what I do immediately after I connect with them? I don’t continue on messaging through LinkedIn. I pick up the phone. Ask where they are located and joke about the weather. These simple human touches link computer name to face, twitter ID to location – all elements that help launch real-time business storhttp://blog.score.org/wp-admin/post-new.phpming creative sessions and solutions to actually get somewhere.
It’s important to remember social media/networking should not just happen online. It may start online when you begin to “follow” and “like” the other’s status, but it should end with a face-to-face introduction and then continue with phone calls, meetings and cyberspacing.