This guy was a master of giving out business cards. At a recent chamber of commerce mixer that I attended he approached me twice with an offer for a free business card. Maybe he read my article about working a Chamber of Commerce mixer?
Either way he might have been sent by his company with a goal of giving out as many business cards as he could and he was certainly effective at his job. Perhaps he had a special deal with a print shop. But I noticed that, after the room had cleared following a fantastic presentation, most of the cards he had given out were still sitting on the table where people had been seated and now were just being thrown away by those who were tidying up the room.
Now I never want to claim to be perfect or even know all the answers but, at this same mixer, I introduced several people to one another whom I thought would provide complimentary services. These “pairs” that I introduced would be perfect partners moving forward and, since people go to Chamber mixers to improve their business, they would likely have benefitted by the introductions and furthered their businesses in these partnerships.
I also handed them my own business cards with the invitation to call me if they had any questions about their new introductions. Have you seen my business cards? They’re pretty slick and, since I pride myself in making a positive impression, the cards do so as well. At least, that’s how I feel.
Funny thing - while I was trying to create a helpful situation between two others Mr. Business Card interrupted our little group with his business cards. He didn’t really seem to notice or care that we already had a conversation going, he just wanted us to know about his employer’s business.
The objective of a Chamber mixer is to create an awareness of you and your business. It’s the perfect place to establish a relationship that benefits you and the other person as well. Sometimes the people you meet would be the last to ever need your products or services but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions about what they do and establish a relationship. Sometimes you just end-up with a friendly fellow attendee, sometimes they know someone who might need your service.
But relationships are the first thing to establish at a Chamber mixer.
I will also tell you that it can take some time to establish these relationships. Not just one mixer, but several mixers over time. At some point you will become the wallpaper guy or the carpet cleaning queen or whatever your business is. You will have established a relationship and, by showing up regularly, you will be reliable.
When someone needs whatever you have they’ll remember you from the mixer and give you a call, if you’ve established a relationship.
Meanwhile just setting a goal for passing out cards without establishing a relationship creates a negative impression. While this gentleman’s employer might be proud of his new team member and how many cards he gave out at the mixer, the whole picture will demonstrate that this new employee simply facilitated people throwing away a lot of their cards.
Chamber mixers aren’t clicky or cold. But they are about relationships and, until you’ve established one with others, it might take a number of times attending before people remember you and your business. Don’t give up - keep going.
Another thing to do is ask a lot of questions - everybody loves to talk about themselves. Especially if you’re the new kid on the block, people will be honored to talk about their business.
Remember Chamber mixers are like the gym - they only work if you go regularly.