I thought traditional name cards i.e., in a paper format, were a thing of the past, as I’d seen in the last networking events I attended more and more people exchanging their contact details through a QR code or by connecting on social media platforms right on the spot.
But then, a couple of months ago, my husband came back from a 3-week business trip with about 100 business cards. So, I thought some tips on name card organisation might still be relevant after all.
As for other areas that rely heavily on a robust process, especially paper and digital information, it’s preferable to set up a system for the new name cards that you’re going to collect from now on before tackling your backlog of name cards. It won’t be as intimidating to deal with a few new name cards as opposed to the hundreds, or thousands maybe, you might have been accumulating over the years. You’ll feel like you’re instantly regaining control instead of being in catch-up mode for a while. And by testing your system on new name cards, you’ll build knowledge and confidence to eventually tackle your backlog which should save you time.
If you collect a fair amount of name cards, I’d suggest you batch task the processing of several name cards at one go for efficiency purposes. In the meantime, you’ll need to gather all the name cards you’ve collected in one place, be it a small box, or container, on your desk or in a desk drawer, to keep them contained. You can then decide to tackle them on a regular basis, weekly or monthly for example (if so, block the time in your diary so you don’t forget), or when the box/container is full.
The first question to ask yourself when you go through the name cards is whether each name card is worth keeping. Indeed, you might have felt obliged to accept a name card that was handed over to you, but once you get home, you have no obligation whatsoever to keep it if it won’t be useful to you. Bin the ones that won’t be.
If you opt for a paper system to organise the name cards, add some notes at the back of the card, if you haven’t already done so, to remember in which circumstances you’ve met the person or in which circumstances you’d be getting in touch with him/her. It’s sure to come in handy at some stage. Invest in a name card organiser to store your cards. Instead of sorting them alphabetically, sort them by category to make it easier to find them when you need them. For example, categories for home may include grooming, medical, home repairs, etc.
If you opt for a digital system, ask yourself whether you could just connect on social media, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram, depending on the nature of the relationship with the person. If so, let go of the name card when the person has accepted the connection. The name cards that will be the most useful to you can be entered into your contact database either manually or by using a card reader or an app. CamCard for example, is an app that reads name cards, saves them instantly to phone contacts, allows you to add meeting notes with texts or images, and syncs across smartphones, tablets, and computers – and that also allows you to exchange e-cards with people you meet in a meeting or conference.
Once you’re satisfied with the system you’ve established, you can then deal with your backlog. Block some time in your schedule to go through the name cards, for example, 2 hours once a week or 30 minutes a day. You’ll eventually get there. Depending on how old your backlog is, you might realise that you have no recollection of the person. You could search for the person online to refresh your memory, and maybe connect with the person on the appropriate social media platform. But if you really have no idea who the person is, it might be safe to discard the name card. After all, there’s no point in keeping information if you have no idea how you’d use it or when you’d need it.
I’d be curious to know what you think about the future of name cards as I’m currently rebranding my business and wondering whether I should get a new name card in a paper format. Do you still have one? Do you think they are here to stay or will eventually be discontinued? Please comment below.