Corporate Connection

I got their business card, then what?

Business Networking popularity in Dubai can be gauged by the huge success of BNI (Business Network International), a forum for people to meet on a regular basis and share referrals. Besides such organised forums, a myriad of Business Networking events are arranged by event companies, business associations, and social communities.

Abdulla was one such senior executive in an advertising firm who decided to expand his circle of contacts by attending Business Networking events. After attending a few events over a span of three months, he had collected over 80 business cards which he kept on his desk. He had also given away 90+ of his cards to the people he had met. He waited for his phone to ring with new business. Nothing happened, and after staring at the cards for a few more weeks, he decided to seek help from a networking guru.

The guru mentored him over a period of 6 months on making the most of his networking efforts. This is what he was asked to do:

Write on the back of each card a memo containing the date, event, his immediate impression, and score indicating future reference.

Enter the visiting card in an online database. If he did not have a company CRM, then he could use any online software. He had a Gmail account, and he entered the details in his Contacts.

Send an introductory mail referring to the meeting and eagerness to stay in touch. Do not include any marketing pitch, just provide your essentials like weblink and social media links, preferably LinkedIn.

Ensure that his LinkedIn profile is updated and it has a recent photo.

Connect on LinkedIn, and remember to refer the meeting in his invitation note. If they had a common connection, then mention that in the connect note to ensure higher chance of being accepted.

After 2–3 weeks follow up with a short note about his company and web links for more information.

Keep his LinkedIn profile updated with customer wins, new projects, posting and sharing articles.

Keep a watch on personal dates of your contacts such as Birthday to send a greeting, or if he had a higher rapport, call to wish personally.

Create a mailing list to send out greetings for special festivals and events to maintain a basic connect. He used his Gmail to categorize and used that to send out mail.

Look out for opportunities that might be of interest to his contacts and share it with them.

He was pleasantly surprised by the response he got. His LinkedIn requests were accepted, and those who were not on LinkedIn replied to his introductory mail. He was monitoring the Opens and Read of his greetings email and was encouraged by the reciprocal greetings he made.

His LinkedIn posts got more likes as his content improved. He got a content company to generate some original content, while he judiciously shared some online posts on his page.

He was invited by these people to other networking events and industry seminars where he made more connects. The opportunities that he shared earned him not just goodwill but referrals in return.

He made sure that he was not seen as a person seeking business but more as a person trying to build a relationship.

After six months he was well into the game, and started closing opportunities that he would have never got had he left the cards lying on his desk.