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Business cards are the best way for professionals to efficiently market and share contact information, so it only makes sense that they are also one of the most convenient ways to store and organize your contacts. Using business cards to manage your contacts has many benefits: They provide all the needed contact information; they help you remember the person who gave the card to you (and your conversation); and they're compact enough to store in a variety of easy-access organizers so you can find who you need fast.
Whether you prefer a rolodex, a business card case, a business card folder, card reader software or a combination of these; it's important that you organize your received business cards as soon as you return from meetings, networking events and other occasions when you've collected others' business cards. Not doing so will result in a cluttered desk drawer, and you're more likely to forget about valuable prospects because their cards are out of sight and out of mind.
When organizing recently received business cards, first weed out the ones you know you are not going to use. Cards from decidedly unprofessional companies are wasted space (unless your business can help them appear more professional). Next, take the cards you will use often or immediately and put them in one organizer; and then place the cards you might use down the road in another. This way you don't have to rifle through hundreds of cards to find the people you contact often, and you'll still have viable contacts on-hand when you need them.
It's a good idea to manage your contacts in at least two different ways so that unforeseen disasters such as a flood or fire won't wipe out your entire collection. You could keep business cards in a rolodex, for instance, and also use a card reader to enter them in electronic contact management software with remote access.
You can organize your contacts by name, company, industry or other filters depending on the nature of your business. Contact management software offers the advantage of searching for contacts by any number of filters, so you can find what you need based on whatever parameters you'd like. Card readers quickly scan your business cards and automatically input the data they contain into your software's database, so they are one of the most efficient ways to organize your business cards.
Once your business cards are organized, it's a good idea to devise a follow-up system. After meeting new contacts at a networking event, for example, you could send a follow-up e-mail the next week that expresses how much you enjoyed your conversation with those contacts. Following up, and drawing on specific conversation points, can go a long way toward keeping your own business card in the right place on prospects' desks.
Business cards are the easiest way to manage your contacts and are highly efficient, because you won't waste time manually entering information into a contact sheet or computer database. Follow the simple strategies outlined above to collect, organize and follow up with your contacts to streamline your contact management efforts and boost business immediately.