My job introduces me to a lot of people. Sometimes a few hundred in a day. Most of those are very casual and random. But about 30 times a day, at a conference, I get a business card from someone that wants to connect in some way. It could be a current customer looking for help, a potential customer looking for advice, a current customer looking to buy more, a current customer that wants to talk to me ASAP about something – there are a lot of reasons I get business cards.
Over the last two years I have accidentally discovered a way to both listen to a customer, and remember who they are, and what they need – days later, when I have traveled back home.
When I receive a business card I hold it in my hand as my conversation continues. I hold it face up, right-side up. If I am talking to a current customer, I bend over the upper right corner. If I am talking to a potential customer, I bend over the upper left corner. A current customer that wants to buy more gets both upper corners bent.
I have a lot of variations of how I bend business cards. A card folded in half means someone wants to talk to me ASAP. A card folded diagonally belongs to a competitor that I feel I can talk to.
Each fold can include the components of the other folds. Happy customer, wants to buy more, and do it ASAP. Upper left and right corners folded over, card folded in half.
If I am talking with someone that is not happy, I fold the bottom right or left corner – depending on if they are a customer or not.
How you fold business cards, or if you do – is up to you. What each fold means to you, is up to you. And if you can somehow manage all these contacts without having to resort to “memory games” – then good for you. I can’t. So I use something that is easy for me to figure out even a week later. And each fold helps me remember more of the conversation I had with that person – which makes me better suited to respond correctly to them after the conference.
It doesn’t matter how you remember people, but you DO need to remember them – and the context in which you met them. If folding business cards turns out to be useful for you, please let me know. I know it has made me much more effective in my follow up conversations.
It is an easy “trick”, and I like easy.