A friend just pointed me out to this interesting video from Syndi Seid, an etiquette coach in San Francisco, who shows the proper way to hand out business cards.
Some of the interesting points I noticed in the video:
If you hand out a card or take it with your left hand, it’s considered an insult. Always present it with your right hand or both hands facing the person you’re giving it to. Both hands shows ultimate respect.
In Japan, a business card is considered an extension of that person. To write notes on the face of the card, or to shove it into your back pocket and then sit on it, is the equivalent of doing the same things to that person’s face. Always take time to look at the card and comment a bit about it, then carefully put it away in your business card holder and write any notes on a separate notepad.
Last week, I spent Thursday through Saturday walking the floor at Expo East, one of the nation’s largest expos for natural and organic products. Given the fact that the primary market of my design studio, the zen kitchen is specialty food and green businesses, I went there hoping (quite rightly, I might add) to meet some new prospects, find some new products to spread the news about, and generally have a great time.
Overall, it was a great time – I got to meet representatives from brands that I already adore as well as try out some new brands, I got a ton of free samples, and had great conversations with most of the folks I met. Except for one person.
On Saturday afternoon, just beginning my networking experience, I came across the booth of a company that makes sustainable body care. I checked it out, introduced myself, and asked a bit about the products. The owner of the company promptly launched into a heavy sales pitch, trying out the different oils on me and telling me about all their great properties. I was intrigued, and ended up buying a small bottle of oil from her. But before I could finish up the conversation, another couple showed up and struck up a conversation with the owner. This couple had apparently spent many years working with one of her major competitors, and now owned a consultancy that helped smaller manufacturers compete with the “big boys.”
In recent months, much like many other small businesses, my design studio, the zen kitchen, experienced a slowdown. Work was still coming in, but my sales process pretty much doubled in length. What’s a girl to do when she needs to get the marketing machine moving? I started looking at what I could give away – and I gave with all my heart.
Generosity as a marketing tool may sound a bit weird, but it’s actually quite simple. What you give comes back to you. You give a referral to someone else, they want to give back to you. You give someone information that will help them solve a problem they’re having, you’ve given them a great excuse to do something good for you – and they remember you the next time someone comes up with a need you can fill.
Over the last couple of years, my relationships with prospects and clients have deepened as a result of my tendency to give freely, and it’s resulted not only in positive attention for my business, but it’s directly resulted in referrals and new clients.
So how can you be more generous? Some ideas:
Offer a half hour of your time to someone in your network and talk about what’s on their mind.
Write an article based on your expertise and publish it where the people you need to reach will read it.
Take someone out for coffee.
Send an interesting article or opportunity to someone you’ve been meaning to keep in touch with.
Pay someone a compliment.
What are your favorite ways to give back to the people you know?