By: Kevin L. Nichols
[OAKLAND – October 11, 2016] Although many people think that business cards have been put out to pasture by QR (quick response) codes, LinkedIn, or Twitter handles, I feel that business cards are still significantly useful. What defines a true networker is what you do with them after you have received them. Lots of my friends and colleagues often ask me how do I stay organized, what’s my follow-up like, and how does it impact my success? Thus, here is what I do with the business cards that I collect and why I do what I do:
1. Scan Each Business Card Using Evernote – In the past, I used to copy all of the pertinent information of each business card because it helped me with memorization. There is something about physically typing someone’s name, email address, and phone number that stuck with me. Unfortunately, I realized that it was very time consuming and slowed me down to move on to other important things, such as following up. I Googled the best business card scanning apps and was not having success just by reading their reviews, so I started to search via reputable sources like Mashable, CNet, etc. to see if there were any recommendations. I stumbled upon an article that mentioned Evernote and I realized that it had been acquired by LinkedIn, which was the best of both worlds for me. As I scanned the business card, it automatically retains a picture of the card, extracts the information from the card, determines what’s a work number, mobile number, etc. and compares the email address with a LinkedIn profile. If there is a match, it will automatically populate additional information from LinkedIn and a profile picture if applicable. Then, you can connect with that individual via LinkedIn, edit the contact information if there are errors, and ultimately go back to whatever app that you use for your contacts and add where you met this person, what you discussed, and any follow-up required.
2. Use a Text File to Create the Same Text for the Notes Section and LinkedIn Request – Often times, I may forget a name or a place, but I won’t forget where I met someone. By adding this information and a time frame, such as “October 2016,” in the notes section of a contact, I can look up all of the contacts that I have met at particular event and determine who I was thinking about. I copy a phrase, such as “Met at the California Minority Counsel Program’s State Convention in San Francisco in October 2016” and put that in the notes section of the business card contact. Then, I add any specific things that I can recall during our conversation.
3. Use Your Computer Instead of Your Mobile App to Connect Via LinkedIn – The mobile app does not allow you to select a company that you have worked at where the recipient would associate you with in order to connect with them. For example, I used to work at Morrison & Foerster LLP, and if I wanted to reconnect with a former colleague, identifying this fact could definitely jog the person’s memory of me. Moreover, it doesn’t allow you to customize your request to connect. I craft a version of where we met in my LinkedIn request introduction, something like, “It was great meeting you at the CMCP in SF earlier today. I’d like to stay connected by adding you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” This is useful in case the person does not check their LinkedIn requests often and needs to jog his/her memory regarding why you would like to connect.
Once your contacts are in your LinkedIn contacts, you can follow their professional trajectory and stay abreast of their movements. If you are connecting for a specific purpose, i.e. sales, etc. it is helpful to use the notes you have written down for your follow-up contact to set up a meeting. People will think that you have a photographic memory, but instead, you just have an impeccable work ethic like a highly performing athlete such as Michael Jordan, Jerry Rice, Steph Curry, or a Lisa Leslie. Now, all you have to do is build a relationship with these individuals in order to be able to leverage them in the future.
Kevin L. Nichols is an entrepreneur, a legal technology, diversity, social media, and political consultant who resides in the Bay Area. He is a passionate community organizer and activist. Kevin is affectionately known as The Social Politician™ and The Social Engineer™ who is engineering a better life for the next generation, socially. For more information, please visit www.kevinlnichols.com.