After the Business Card Exchange

When people hand you their business cards, what do you do with them?
Why is it so valuable that you have the cards when you don't know what to do with them?
I'll tell you why. First, let's get something out of the way.

Ann Cunningham's Business Card
Ann Cunningham's business card, which includes her name in Braille, is one that I've kept as a unique artist card. It fits her tagline: tactile artist.


What We Know

You shouldn't add people to a bulk email or newsletter list without their permission.
Period. End of discussion.
So, you're not going to take the card and input the information into your email distribution list.

What I Do With Business Cards

Upon meeting someone in person, I follow up within a day or two with a personal email, handwritten note card, or an Art Biz Coach postcard – presuming I want to stay connected with that person.
After I follow up, I enter the data into my database – not on my email distribution list, but just in my personal contact list database that sits on my computer. I make sure to add notes about the person before I forget.
Then I throw away the card unless I want to use it as an example of good marketing material. I'm trying to shed paper and it's much easier to look up someone in a database than to find them in a stack of cards.

Date Everything

Add dates to all of the notes in your database. You'll be grateful later when those dates are there to help jog your memory.
So . . . what do you do with the business cards you receive?

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21 thoughts on “After the Business Card Exchange”

  1. I actually keep all the cards I get in a little black box, with each one stapled to an index card that I can make a note on. Even though I put all the info into a contacts database (not my newsletter list!) I keep the card. At the end of the year, I go through the box and look at all the cards I have. Often several will stand out at me as being out of date or wrong and it will prompt me to seek out new and updated contact info.
    I’ve found that it’s easier for me to review information in this way rather than to just print out a detailed list of contact info from my database. I’m a visual person, and business cards are visual – not just text on a list. It makes it easier for me to remember the person and card that way.

  2. I’m thinking of cutting up the more colorful ones and using the scraps for collage. Otherwise, I hang onto them until I can’t remember who the person is who gave me the card and then I throw it away. Ones I want to keep for contact go into a card sleeve page for easier retrieval when I want to contact someone. Mind, this seems to work better for non-business contacts given that most of the cards I get are either from old networking things or from my mother’s healthcare contacts.
    I’m really awful at finding good business contacts (so I haven’t had to think about maintaining too many of these). The few I do have, I am good about keep track.

  3. I do pretty much the same thing. I will put all the information in my email data base, then I may or may not keep the card. I like to stay in contact with someone who really is interested in my art.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Oil Pastels: I should write a blog post about this. Great idea!
      I use Apple Mail for everyday contacts.
      I use FileMaker Pro for my contact list (storage system).
      I use 1ShoppingCart for my email distribution.

  4. Alyson, you say “Upon meeting someone in person, I follow up within a day or two with a personal email, handwritten note card, or an Art Biz Coach postcard.”
    But what do you actually say in that follow up? I guess you’d say, “It was nice to meet you at …Yada yada” But do you ask them in the follow up if you can add them to your email or newsletter list?

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Linda: Yes, I just say “nice to meet you, let’s stay in touch.” If there’s any way I can personalize it, I do that, too. Usually just 2-3 sentences.
      No, I don’t ask about adding them to the list. I’m more passive than that, which works for me.
      If they say “I could really use your help,” that’s when I suggest signing up for my newsletter and provide the link.

  5. If I simply collect the card for business, I transfer the information to my blackberry/contacts and throw away the card. However if I find that I have a connection with the person or organisation, I tend to keep the card in my wallet, not sure why. I just find that sometimes I don’t want to throw it away, almost like I’m carrying the people with me everyday…

  6. When I keep business cards, they’re all usually in a little filebook that I browse over from time to time. I do keep some in my wallet also, but those usually get ruined after some time. I like what Patricia said about making them into a collage, that seems really fun and resourceful. I was thinking of making something like a “string wall” with series of lines tied from end to end with the buiness cards all hanging by paperclips in punched holes or something. That way I wouldn’t have to shuffle search my piles every time I wanted to use them.

  7. We definitely also like to consolidate our business card collections and just keep the important data instead of the stacks of paper. The business card is a powerful way to initiate interest and awareness about yourself as an artist, but a good online portfolio is the substance behind the card. So we like to think that a good majority of people who receive business cards check out the websites listed on them.

  8. This article is going to help me be better with follow-up!
    I used to keep business cards in a three-ring binder, with sleeves designed to hold business cards. I really liked this way of being able to see my network. I don’t use it now, but I may go back to it.
    After I add new cards to the database, that is!

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