The other day, I was headed to our local dog park with my wife and our puppy. We were already in the car and actually backing out of the driveway when I realized that I had forgotten my business cards. I stopped the car and told my wife that I was headed back into the house to get my cards. She was a bit surprised and said, “Really? Do you think you need them for the dog park?” I laughed and said, “I never want to be anywhere without my cards because I never know when or where I might meet a potential client.”
The more prepared we are when opportunity presents itself, the greater the likelihood that we will be able to take advantage of opportunity. I realize that most of the people who go to our dog park are retired because we usually go in the middle of the day when my potential clients are at work. Nevertheless, just because potential clients won’t be at the dog park, does not mean that every time I go there I won’t find opportunity.
That particular day, there was a man playing with his miniature pinscher. We struck up a conversation and I learned that (i) he hails from Boston, where I grew up, (ii) he loves dogs, and (iii) he owns two businesses that would benefit from my services. If I had to assess the potential that a prospect will turn into a client, I would say that the fellow with the miniature pinscher has great potential. Fortunately, I had my cards with me and was able to give him one. Only time will tell whether he will call me, but he could not have called me if I had not been able to give him a card.
Business cards are hugely valuable in developing a clientele. A tiny piece of paper with your name, address, phone number, e-mail address and website is more valuable than any other marketing materials that you can carry. Business cards fit in wallets. They are inexpensive. They are hugely useful. Yet I have encountered many business people of late who do not carry cards. Indeed, I have asked three people in particular for their cards while I have been out and about over the past week only to learn that they do not carry cards. At least two of those people lost sales because I was not able to recall their names or contact information when I thought to call them.
In addition, business cards – or calling cards – are important even if you do not have a business. A century ago, no one would call at someone’s home without presenting a calling card. If you are looking for work, you should have your own calling cards that you can leave with anyone and everyone after speaking with them. Just as with business owners, job seekers want their contact information to be readily available when opportunity presents itself. Without a calling card, it is much less likely that the contacts that you develop will put your information into their organizers and thus much less likely to call you when they need your services.
Do you carry business cards? Do you use them? How have they helped you to find clients?