Old Fashioned Networking
Networking in a Digital Culture
Recently John and I went to the Canadian Restaurant and Food show at the National Energy Centre at the CNE grounds in Toronto. Great show and above all it prominently features our client Hamilton Store Fixtures. The show is very large and one of the things they have are high tech badge scannners. So, everyone you speak to about their prdoduct would love to scan your badge. Of course that’s where some of us begn to feel paralized. I don’t want my badge scanned. My email box is already full beyond imagination. Just because we chat doesn’t mean that I want all your email brochures, newsletters and notices. I’m not so sure a scanned name tag is going to bring any business to a company who sends out unsolicited emails as a result of scanning name tags.
So what would be a more appropriate way of networking on the social B2B level. Well I hate to say it….but business cards are not so bad….especially if we respect them and take them seriosuly. Here’s what I’m thinking. We should gather and give busienss cards at any business event – as we see fit. Give, receive, exchnage whatever makes you feel approrpriate. When you get back to your desk it’s important to sort them out. Correlate them wiht photos you may have taken of products or services. Discard the cards that you should not have taken, and then begin to etiher scan the cards into your contact management system or manually enter them. But more importantly as you enter them, be sure to write a quick email to each of those people. Thank them for the time that they took to show you their product or service, perhaps remind them of yours and then suggest that you be of mutual support to each other. This personal system of dealing with contacts from shows or conferences is far more effective than scaning their contacts and mass emailing.
No matter what we do digitally to attract buiness nothing will replace the personal contact that results. It’s human beings that make the sale not scanners. And in all honesty, isn’t it nice to bridge the networking ways of old with new technolog.
By the way, the flip side of the coin is when vendors or service providers take your name and contact information and never get back to you. That happened to me last year at the Hamilton Home Show. We needed a water feature done at our home (since we were on the Secret Garden Tour) and the contractor never called. He lost a sale – we went to someone else. Networking, selling, providing services is all about the genuine personal contact.