How to effectively use business cards at conferences

blogher '08As many of you know, I attended BlogHer '08 in San Francisco this past July. My husband and I had just discovered we were pregnant (much to our delight) the night before my departure...and I felt myself slipping into the land of nausea shortly thereafter. But I decided to go anyway.

I never really did give an adequate "re-cap" of my trip due to the fact that morning sickness quickly took over from there and I won't do that here. BUT I would like to point out that I was a bit taken aback by the onslaught of business cards that awaited me.

Since there are quite a few other blogging/business conferences coming up that you may be attending (Blissdom, Mom 2.0 Summit, BlogHer '09, SXSW Interactive, to name a few...), I thought I'd give a brief "lesson" on business card etiquette...in the off-chance that you're nervous about that kind of thing.

There is, after all, a proper way to use and distribute business cards in order to maximize their potential.

Here is what NOT to do:

  • Hand someone your business card at the onset of a conversation and/or before you have had an opportunity to "connect."
  • Give your business card to ANYONE who is breathing before gauging his/her interest level in your product, service, or blog.
  • Prepare an "elevator pitch" about your business/blog and give it with timed perfection like those guys at the county fair who sell fancy schmancy blenders that will chop up absolutely anything in under 10 seconds.

Essentially, the purpose of the business card is to serve as a "reminder," to jog a person's memory about you...because you were just so incredibly likable and professional. You need to connect FIRST, "sell" second.

The Golden Rule applies. Think about the other person first. Ask about his/her business/blog/interests. Say something memorable. Talk about something interesting. Be genuinely kind. THEN - after the conversation and the laughter - THEN AND ONLY THEN should you pull out a business card.

Even then, I'm not a fan of just forcing it into the other person's hands. Good manners should still be present. Why not say gracefully, "It was so nice meeting you and hearing about XXX (your two-year-old, how you ended up at this conference, etc.). Would you be interested in keeping in touch?" There, that wasn't so hard.

resilient pink 72 ct. business card case rolodexAnd when you accept a business card, don't just stuff it in your pocket or purse (where it is sure to be scrunched up, forgotten, or colored on by your toddler). Write a little note to yourself on the back ("she works in the marketing dept." or "he has a 3-year-old" or "her daughter is heading to college this fall") so you can follow-up properly. Then, file the business card away in your pretty, professional, and pink 72 ct. Business Card Case by Rolodex (on sale at Amazon.com right now for $17.49).

Okay, you don't have to have that specific case. But I will point out that it is a "beauty." The faux leather is so sleek and sharp-looking. The snap front is classy and it's a handy size - not too bulky to carry with you from session to session. Plus, it features a mini notepad and pen loop for easy note-taking.

resilient pink journal rolodexI also have the Rolodex Resilient Pink Journal (~$20) and it is equally attractive. It includes both a large and small notepad, a place for handouts, 2 pen loops, and 5 small pockets for business/credit cards. I bring this one to meetings with me - especially when I want to leave my purse and laptop behind.

Whether you're promoting your mom blog, your Arbonne business, your design business, or your PR company...remember that organization is crucial and friendliness isn't optional. Consider others first. Smile. Relax. Be thoughtful. Don't be "sales-y." That's the real way to win customers...and to make friends.

YOUR TURN: Are you going to any blogging/business conferences in 2009?

WIN IT! One winner will receive the Resilient Pink 72 ct. Business Card Case AND the Resilient Pink Journal by Rolodex. To enter, leave a comment on this post prior to Saturday, January 10 at midnight (don’t forget to follow the rules). * Winner must provide a U.S. mailing address.

*UPDATE* The winner is #134 JenniferR. Congratulations!

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147 comments on “How to effectively use business cards at conferences”

  1. I'm not attending any right now, but I'm very curious. I love to write and review and connect with people, so why not? Now, to gather the funds... haha. Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. This would help me be one professionally organized MAMA!!! Or at least pretty close! : )))

    Thanks so much for this fabulous give~away and the amazing review! : )))

    leahita[at]gmail[dot]com

  3. I'd love to go to one of the conferences after I've got my blogs a little more organized...but I would love this business card case to keep track of the many business cards I acquire, and want to save in one neat place!

  4. No blogging conferences for me -- still don't have my blog up! I do have a couple of activism conferences I'm signed up for, and this would be very nice to have for those.

  5. I am not aware of any conferences yet. However, I am planning to do a remake of my family's business over this next year and take it in a new direction, so it is possible.

    As for organization, that is my big resolution this year. My hubby has been shocked at the changes in our house and that so far I am carrying through. I am hoping that I will continue until it is a habit!

  6. I haven't been to a blogging conference but am always going to other conferences for work. These items would be great to bring. They are professional and feminine!

  7. I will be going to three conferences this year related to the transportation industry. Dallas, Lousiville, and Las Vegas. I would love this win. What a great product!

  8. I'm forever sticking cards in my wallet, dropping them in my purse, using them as bookmarks. This way, I will actually be able to find them to use them! Great idea.

  9. Very timely contest. Great ideas! I need this for Blissdom coming up, along with a fresh round of cards printed. I'd better get on that! Thanks for the reminder.

  10. Not sure yet whether I will be attending any conferences this year. Last January I was able to go to Florida for a conference (which was great!) and this prize would really come in handy. Thanks!

  11. I don't have plans to attend any conferences in the near future, but I love going to writers conferences. It's so inspiring and educational to hear professional writers and editors talking about their craft. I could use the card case and the journal in my work, though. They are snazzy!

  12. I haven't yet been to a blogger conference, but I am thinking about it this summer. I would also love to have these for my small business.

  13. Am in first stages of creating a blog & found you by (happy!) accident. I do intend to attend conferences on west Coast!

  14. I am not going to any conference this year but I do subscribe to different blogs and keep up regularly online!

  15. I love the journal...I've been wanting to find something nice to write in ideas I come up with (I'm a big idea person)for my business, home,how to make things easier, more organized or time efficient - invention ideas - dreams, movies I want to see, poetry, story ideas...etc.

    I love the idea of the business card case as well...I'm going to be getting my Massage Therapy License soon, and although I want to begin by working in an Oncology department eventually I want my own business and will be attending networking functions like conferences and Chamber of Commerce meetings and this would come in very handy.

  16. I am a teacher and enjoy going to education conferences during the coming summer. This would be great to carry around for notes and cards.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  17. This business card holder is such a fashion statement and also very useful. Don't Grinch me, just pick me.

  18. I doubt I'll be going to any conferences this year. I have a hard time justifying spending our family money on me doing individual travel, especially for blogging. It'd be different if I were traveling on my own to meet with girlfriends or something like that, but even then I'd feel guilty. I suppose if I ever lucked into a sponsor I'd be all over that opportunity. Somehow I don't see *that* happening anytime soon.

    I'd love to win the business card holder though. I always lose the cards I'm given because I don't have anywhere to keep them!

  19. The business conferences in my area have been few and far between for the last couple of years. Hopefully, with the state of the economy, things will change this year. If so, I'll be there!

  20. I don't have any conferences or anything, but would actually like to put my name in the hat for my sister who is a realestate agent. This would be perfect for her birthday coming up.

  21. I'm thinking this would be great for my partner. While she has no specific plans to attend anything, she will be graduating soon with a major in music and minor in computer science. Which means tons of networking in her future. Thanks.
    Heidi
    [email protected]

  22. I didn't even know there were blogger conventions, so know I've no plans to go to any. I do use business cards and a portfolio in my line of work, so these items would fit in nicely with my stuff. The journal would be handy when I'm meeting with clients. Much more professional than walking in with a pad of paper. Thanks for the giveaway!

  23. I won't be going to any blogging conferences this year, but will probably go to one work-related one. I'm always looking for some system to keep those cards in; maybe this would help.

  24. I'm not attending any conferences but I do hand out cards for my trucking business and receive many cards associated with the business

  25. Fantastic ideas! I already have a pink phone book and a few pink calendars/planners. These would fit in well with my life and style.

    Now I need to learn more about blogher and the likes.

  26. I'm not planning to go to any conference at the moment, but I might now that I know about them. Love the journal!

  27. I really appreciate your advice on business cards. I never had a business card, until I started working:) I have so many important business cards from others that would fit great in that adorable case.

  28. I am starting college in the summer and I know the number of cards is going to swell. Thanks for an excellent way to keep them handy.

  29. I AM GOING TO HAVE KNEE SURGERY FOR 2009, SO I AM NOT GOING TO CONFERENCES THIS YEAR. BUT THIS WOULD BE VERY HELPFUL FOR KEEPING RECORDS OF ALL THE NEW PEOPLE THAT I WILL BE MEETING ON THIS JOURNEY.

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS GREAT PRIZE!

  30. I will be going to several conferences this year and just had some cards made. This would be absolutely wonderful!

  31. I am not planning on going to any conferences this year, but have high hopes for many changes in the New Year.
    The card case and journal are adorable!.

  32. Lol, I loved the what NOT to do, especially the one about not giving it to just anyone who is breathing!

    And I don't blog, so I won't be going to any conferences, but I enjoy reading yours!!

    Also, I can't figure out how to subscribe, any help?

    autumn398 (at) yahoo.com

  33. I don't have any plans to go to any this year, but with work something could come up. I would love to win this. Thanks!

  34. Would love to win this for my sister, who's in marketing/event planning. She'd love it, and carries around a notepad all the time. The business card holder is something she doesnt have yet. I'm not going to any conferences this year - as I've decided to stay at home with our son, due end of this month. But I've been to plenty in the past, and these items are key! Great giveaway.

  35. I am not much on conferences, but as an attorney, I LOVE business cards...always need to know others in different specialties. I would be so proud to have such an adorable case to keep mine in!

  36. Yes the first business meeting I have this year is the last of February in Tampa or Charlotte..I will probably know at the last minute.

  37. No, I will not be going to any this year. However, I attend alot of conferences for work and this would be perfect!

  38. I have not planned on going to a business or blogging convention, but I just may. I am self-employed and need to seek more work.

  39. no, I just started blogging this past month. I've been doing only websites til then, BUT...I did just join a crafters meet up off of a blogging site, if that counts.

  40. I don't anticipate going to any conferences but I appreciate the tips. I will be trying to market my soaps and I will keep your tips in mind.

  41. I'm not going to any blogging conferences, but I find that the "Mommy Card" is quite useful to me when I meet new moms at play groups and other functions. Inevitably we don't have a pen or paper between us, or hands free to write with, so the cards are very helpful for keeping in touch.

  42. I am not going to any blogging conferences this year nor any business conferences. Our office budget has been slashed due to the economy. I could really use the card holder though.

  43. I was going to go to Blissdom but have pretty much decided against it for this year as we just decided that we'll return to Jamaica next Dec. and the deposit is due by the end of Feb. so I'm not sure that it would fit in the budget. I am going to BlogHer and most likely Blog World Expo this year.

    Great biz card tips!

  44. Great post! I'm not a big business card giver-outer because I never know when or how to give them. Im SO excited to be going to BlissDom in February. But I'll miss my conference buddy. Weep! :(

  45. I'd love having either of these products. I have always wondered what to do with business cards and journaling is one of my favorite things to do (and I don't do it enough!) I could also use both for the business I plan to start up designing things. Organization is something I need to work on too!

  46. I plan on attending my annual library conference this summer and my cards always come in handy. I would love to win the card holder instead of having my cards tucked into a pocket in my purse.

  47. At the moment I have no plans to go to any conferences, but you never know. I could still use these for my everyday life, though! Right now I have my business cards stuffed (and I mean STUFFED) in my wallet, and I can hardly get them out when I do need them.

  48. Would love to win this prize. With a plethora of medical problems requiring the help of N.I.H. doctors on both the East and West coasts, this would be so helpful to keep all of their cards and those of the related hospital facilities organized.

  49. I really, really wanted to go to Blissdom, but it's not going to happen. I'm hoping for BlogHer. I'm just a little fish in the sea, but I want to grow! I'd love to actually meet some of the awesome ladies that I read about all the time!

  50. I am determined to make it to BlogHer this year - I haven't been to one yet and since it's only a couple of hours away, I'm going to find a way somehow to get there. I wish I could get to BlissDom in February, but Nashville is just too far.

    I'd love to win these - I just got my business cards for my review site today! :)

  51. I don't think I'll make it to a blog related conference this year but would love to when my twins are a little older. Great picks for a business card holder and portfolio, these are classy and have personality!

  52. ok, well I would love to win of course. I'm on the eve of attending my very first "bloggy eveny" blissdom 09! I've never thought of bringing cards, but I think I just might...

  53. I'm not, but I go to scientific conferences related to work and I'd love a nicer way to keep things organized besides my giant black portfolio.

  54. I am going to Blissdom and I don't do cards - although I enjoy receiving them from others after we've chatted so that I can visit them online. I always feel as though my little blog isn't worthy of cards so I just skip giving out my own. Silly perhaps but I really am going for reasons other than building my readership.

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