HGTV’s Gary McCormick momentarily shocks young job seekers when they attempt to hand him their business cards, and he says: “No thank you, I don’t want your business card.”
Initially, that might seem strange for the PRSA president-elect. So, Gary quickly explains: “I am happy to give them my card and they are welcome to contact me with their questions, requests, inquiries, etc. Why do I do this? As I tell people, I’m going to take your card and put it in a pile with all the other cards I get today. What will I do with them? At best, enter them into my Outlook–today’s version of a Rolodex, and forget where I got the contact in the months that ensue.”
“Instead, I encourage them to email me or call and tell me what they would like from me. Why? It differentiates them from others, it starts building a personal relationship with me, it allows me to independently evaluate the partnership and determine what is best for both of us (which may mean a referral to someone that is better equipped to help them), and determine the resources it will require for success,” Gary says. “None of that can be accomplished in a brief meeting and I know that I will be remiss in doing the follow up with multiple requests from a speaking engagement.”
Like me, Gary has similar feelings towards LinkedIn. If you don’t know the individual you’re asking to link with or have a good “business case” for extending the invitation, then don’t.
Gary’s bottom line: Simply exchanging business cards isn’t networking. “By defining their needs to something that is tangible, measured, time-constrained and focused they you will build an invaluable network.”