Among business people and entrepreneurs and solopreneurs there are a few people that are highly organized in all matters. Then there’s the rest of us that struggle with organizing different projects (whether they be files on the computer, photos in the photo directory, or things cluttering the desktop).
In this post, I will not attempt to organize your entire life (though I do know some organization experts), but I will give you some hints on handling business cards. (One small step for an entrepreneur, one giant leap for your desk surface).
First, we’ll need some business cards. That shouldn’t be a problem if you’re out networking. You may have gotten 30 at the last speed networking event you went to.
Next we’ll need two simple items that you most likely have in your home, a Sharpie and some zipper sandwich bags. You might be wondering what these common items might have to do with organizing business cards, but bear with me.
Before you head out to your networking event (or immediately when you arrive home), write the name of the event you are attending on the sandwich bag. For instance, you can write “Chamber Luncheon” or “Women in Business Breakfast.” While you are at the event (or when you leave), place all the cards from that event in the sandwich bag.
You might be asking, “Why am I putting these in a bag?” Remember what I said earlier about those of us that are less organized? If you are the type of person that ends up with a purse, pocket, or briefcase full of cards at the end of the week, and you don’t remember where they all came from (it happened to me in a former business venture), you will appreciate having them grouped by occasion.
Now that you’ve gotten home and you have all your cards in appropriate “files” (even though the files are, for now, sandwich bags), you can arrange them as best suits your needs. I have a Google Drive Spreadsheet file listing the name of the contact, all their information, and the event and date where I met them.* After you have entered all the information, you can take your business cards and put them in a small business card file, you could dispose of them (since you have the information), you can put them in an attractive basket on your desk, or you can do what I do and put them in the plastic shoe box. (Confession time, the reason I put mine in a plastic shoe box is because we use those for organizing many things in my household, so there’s always one or two extras around here; plastic shoe boxes are not required).
There have been a few times when a number I don’t know has shown up on my caller ID, and a quick look at my spreadsheet has helped me identify the person calling.
Next week, we’ll talk about what to do with the contacts once you’ve entered the business cards.
*If you’re using an iPhone or Android app to “file” your business cards, it’s still a good idea to make a note of when and where you met a person.