With festival season still upon us, I can’t help but think about all those industry parties and about meeting both old friends and making new contacts… and handling the inevitable business cards that come along.
1. Use Two Pockets – A blazer works well. Keep your cards in one pocket – the “out tray”, and cards you receive in the other – the “in tray”. Your cards will always be instantly accessible, and you’ll never pull out a stack of other people’s cards when searching for the last few copies of your own.
2. Set Yourself a Quota – Nearly everyone I know finds it hard to meet new people, especially at industry parties. Set yourself a quota for the party, like: “I’m going to hand out 5 of my business cards tonight“, or “I’m going to collect at least 3 business cards at this party“. Yes, this type of quota requires you meet people, but is focussed on the goal, not the people, so may be easier for you to strike up conversations with new folk. You may then find yourself on a roll and exceed your quota… and have a great time doing so.
3. Carry Spares of Your Card & a Pen – People do forget to bring business cards, run out of copies, or not have one. Bring extras of yours, and a pen. The back of your business card will do to write contact information of these folk. The pen is also useful to customize notes onto their card (that you receive) immediately to remind yourself later of the conversation or the topic you two want to follow up on together.
4. Research Who’s Attending – In advance, you should have at least a sense of the people who will be attending the party by who is hosting. Is there anyone in particular you really want to meet? Plan what starting conversation you may use to break the ice with that person, and target to exchange business cards. You don’t have to become fast friends at the party itself – you might even meet at a later party and can follow up on the conversation from the first one.
5. Use the Cards Soon Afterward – Finally, as soon as you can after the party (though not necessarily that night!), use the contact information on the cards to follow up with at least a “nice to meet you“.
So, dust off your business cards and start trading. Happy industry partying!