What do you do with business cards you’re given at networking events or in the course of a day’s work?
Many of you probably take the cards back to your office, put them in a desk drawer and never touch them again. What good is that? Fight the urge to just set those cards aside.
Instead, try leveraging the fact that you personally connected with someone and use the cards to expand your online network.
It’s simple. Here’s what you do:
- Gather that stack of cards and log in to your LinkedIn account.
- Check to see if your new contact has a profile on the site (just enter the person’s name in the search field).
- If you find the person’s profile, click the link to add them to your network. (If they’re not on LinkedIn, add their info to your email contact list or address book instead).
- LinkedIn uses a non-personal ‘note’ that goes with each invitation to connect; delete that text and add something personal. Adapt this (or something like it) to your use: “Great to meet you this morning at the chamber breakfast. I’d like to stay connected with you here on LinkedIn,” or “Thanks for the great information you presented at the conference. Let’s stay connected here on LinkedIn.” It doesn’t have to be a long, wordy message — just something to help refresh the person’s memory about how you met.
- When you are officially connected, you can recycle the cards. Your desk will be cleaner AND you will have a larger network of contacts.
Repeat steps 2 through 5 until you’ve worked through that stack of cards and successfully expanded your online network. Don’t forget to update your status every week or so to keep others engaged in your company. Providing recommendations to those you have actually done business with also is appreciated. In addition, be sure to provide meaningful feedback on others’ LinkedIn posts to stay connected and add value to your interactions.