Friday, November 27, 2009

A game of cards?

Who wins the business card game?

In the early days of BRE we would start launch meetings of new groups with an ice breaker. Everyone present would have a few minutes to meet, and exchange business cards with, as many other people as possible. The people who had collected the most cards would be considered to be the winners and we presented them with a nice branded business card holder.

I soon stopped the practice when I realised that it sent out all of the wrong messages. After all, is there anything worse in networking events than people who run around like crazy trying to pass out and collect as many cards as they possibly can, never stopping to engage in conversation or find out something about anyone else in the room?

A reader of this blog was telling me this week about an event she recently attended where the same ice breaker was employed. Unimpressed, she decided to remain in her seat rather than join in with the game. The person who had been sitting next to her handed her his card before leaving to distribute his cards more widely. A couple of minutes later he came up to her and tried to pass his card across again. He had completely forgotten that they had already spoken and exchanged cards!

To me, an exchange of business cards should put the seal on a conversation, as a signal of the intent to build on the initial interaction. The example above shows the flipside, collecting cards without any meaningful interaction has the same benefits as picking names from the phone book.

The winner at networking events is the person pursuing conversations, not cards.


  1. Andy Preston suggested that leading with the production of a business card in a sales meeting is best. Like you, I think it inappropriate at a networking meeting.

    A few months ago, I went to a networking meeting where one attendee handed out business cards of a web designer whose was his acquaintance. Bizarre.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly and feel that you should determine how you can be of use before exchanging details. The big plus is there is less to follow up yet it's more focused.

  3. As a networker myself I strongly push the relationship building at the events my business facilitates. I wouldn't buy double glazing from you if you approached me in the street with a clip board, the same at networking, before I look at buying your services I want to get to know you first.
    Look beyond the business card and the name badge they are wearing