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Pack Your Business Cards for the Fall Semester

Business cards are not on your list for your Fall Semester? BIG MISTAKE. 

I don’t care if it is college, high school, vocational school or technical college: to gainGREAT advantage, you need business cards. Let me explain:

Most students don’t expand their professional network efficiently. They have not yet learned that the size and quality of their network has huge effects on their future career and net-worth.

You need to network with people who are going to where you are dreaming of going, or who are already at that role or level you aspire to.

The Give/Get of the Business Card

When you meet professionals who you want to stay in touch with OR that you might want to reach out to in the future, ‘give’ them your business card, and their natural reaction is to offer you theirs in return.  Now you have all of their contact information.

What Should Be On the Card?

Keep it simple.

I don’t advocate you putting down your major, or your college, or your year (you don’t want them to become inaccurate before you finish the box.)

Simply put your:

  • Name
  • Cell number
  • And a decent email that looks like your name

What is a Decent Email? 

You want the recipient to see the email and know it is you. A lot of addresses are taken so that may be slightly challenging. You can do two things:

  1. Try your name in several ways:
  • First, Middle, Last name
  • First and Middle initial than Last name
  • Be creative
  1. ‘Shop’ the many free carriers.
  • You want to use a site that will be around for the rest of your career (Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc…).  There are other great ones and they often bundle in storage and basic apps with these free accounts.
  • Free email hosting with an enduring provider like:
    • Gmail.com
    • Hotmail.com
    • Outlook.com
    • Yahoo.com
    • iCloud.com
  • Others
    • Mail.com
    • Yandex.Mail
    • Zoho
    • AIM
    • GMX
    • InBox
    • MailMyWay

 The Business Cards Themselves

They are all of $30 for 500. Understated is better than overstated and you want to use material that you can easily write on (don’t get laminate ones you can’t write on them and they cost more).

This is really a no brainer:

  • Work the career fair, business cards give you advantage
  • Meet a guest lecturer, advantage again
  • Meet an alum at a sporting event, advantage
  • Meet members of the company you are interning with, you will stand out

Personal Networking In General

I cannot overstate the power of a strong personal network. As with all things, having a plan and making it a habit will help you out significantly.  Here is some general thoughts on networking.  Don’t be like the dog that runs after a big car, catches it, then doesn’t know what to do with it.  Here are some tips to fortify this new-found connection. 

The 12 Hour Tie-Down

After you exchange business cards (lots of people do that) you need to put some notes on the back of their card to remind you later the points you spoke about, or key take-aways you received from them (most do not do that), and then within 12 hours, while your meeting is fresh in the other persons head, you tie-down with an email, that references what you spoke about (even fewer do that). 

Before you hit send, tee up a LinkedIn invite to them and mention in your tie-down email that you will be sending an Invitation to Connect on LinkedIn:

  1. Send the email
  2. Immediately send the invite

(this way they will get both messages back to back in their inbox)

Fortify the Future

If you take one more step it will vastly increase future access.  You copy the email into the notes section of your contact database (I use Outlook but you can use whatever you want so long as you can save notes within the contact).  Then when you reach out to them in the future, you can reference where you met and the email you sent to them in order to follow-up.  This invariably leads to instantly connecting vs. saying, ‘I met you a few years ago, remember me?’

Don’t Miss an Opportunity to Standout

Do most students have business cards?  No.

Do most students adopt a process and make it a habit to be better at networking?  No. 

Do most students look for opportunities to connect when their path cross on of an over-achiever?  No.

So be EXCEPTIONAL and give yourself this small $30 advantage.

Good luck.

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