Business card helps get foot in door
November 26, 2012
As a rural business adviser for Angelo State University Small Business Development Center, I am fortunate to get to assist with some training of other rural advisers. Such was the occasion in October.
The adviser in this particular rural area is a new hire. He comes to this job with several years’ experience in the retail sector and he requested some assistance with peer-to-peer relationship building. During my visit to his area, I know he garnered lots of information from me, but to my surprise, I learned a lot as well.
The most interesting aspect of our travels through his rural territory was the technique of handing out business cards.
Handing out business cards needs to be practiced to be most effective. I discovered through teaching the technique that there is a very effective process.
The following scenario, created with fictitious names, is created to show the process and how proper business-card usage can open doors, make lasting relationships and create an opportunity for a return visit.
Our first stop of the morning was the county clerk’s office. The adviser entered the busy lobby area and simply asked to see the county clerk. The receptionist on the other side of the desk didn’t respond. He asked again and the receptionist had to ask him who he was. He answered with his name and title, and the receptionist simply stated that the county clerk was not available. He thanked the receptionist and we left. I could tell the adviser was uncomfortable with the response from this office.
We discussed what had happened, developed a plan and practiced its implementation.
As we approached the second stop of the day, he would prepare his business cards so they are easily accessible. When first entering a building, he will approach the first person (probably the gatekeeper) make eye contact and say, “Hello, my name is John Doe.” As he speaks, he will be handing her his business card, pause and give them just enough time to read his name. Then he will say, “I’m with the Small Business Development Center.” Then give them time to read that information on your business card. This methodical approach allows the gatekeeper time to process the new information.
The gatekeeper may ask how she can assist. The correct reply is to request to speak with someone: “I would like to speak with a banker in the commercial lending department about the services our office can provide your customers.”
The gatekeeper feels in control because she has your business card, knows who you are and knows what you want. She is pleased that she can assist you. She will request that you have a seat while she locates the banker. During this time, she still has your business card. When she locates the commercial banker, she can give him the card as she says your name and identifies your company. The banker might very well carry your business card with him as he walks to the lobby to meet you.
We had practiced our plan ahead of time. The second stop was in fact a bank! The adviser presented his card as we had discussed and the response was just as we had rehearsed: The gatekeeper used his business card to speak with the commercial lender and the lender invited us into his office. The adviser was very pleased with these results.
After a successful meeting, the adviser was ready to approach anyone! We successfully spent the rest of the time introducing the SBDC to other government officials and bankers. When we finished the day, the adviser was amazed at the number of business cards he had been able to collect, the solid contacts he had made and the follow-up appointments he had planned. Business cards are powerful tools.
Should you wish to hone your introduction skills, all the SBDC advisers at Angelo State University will be happy to assist you, just give us a call.
“Business Tips” was written by Peggy Rosser, rural business development specialist and certified business advisor IV of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center. For more information on the topic of this article or the services of the ASU SBDC, contact her at Peggy.Rosser@angelo.edu