Ask Me for My Business Card

A little over a week ago I attended the Create Denver Expo in beautiful downtown Denver, Colorado. One floor of the building was devoted to promotional tables–businesses catering to creative businesses.

After a couple of workshops upstairs, I found my way down to this floor. I made a point to visit almost every table and talk to people. This is out of my comfort zone, but critical for networking.

I asked questions about their businesses and was amazed that very few of them asked me about me. A simple question or two would have helped them decide if I was a good prospect. And any good salesperson knows that the sale is all about the buyer–not about you or the product. (Selling art is a little more complicated than that, but you’ll still get further with a sale when you show the potential buyer you care about him or her.)

The kicker

I found someone at one of the promotional tables who could help me get a deck of cards printed. Something like the size of a standard deck of cards, but with inspirations or actions on them instead of playing card suits. I’ve been looking for just such a resource for years. This salesperson and I talked quite a bit about what could be done and she even quoted some pricing. She could tell I was happy to have found her.

She can’t follow up

I asked for her business card and got it.

And now she may never see me again. She can’t follow up with me because she didn’t ask for MY card. Having my card in her hands would have allowed her to follow up with me. I would have given it to her, too.

I’m okay with the way things are (me in control), but can’t help but think of the opportunities that people missed that day.

For more on this, read my article The Business Card Dance for the Handmade in PA blog.

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17 comments to Ask Me for My Business Card

  • Alyson, thanks for this important reminder. Marketing is about building relationships, not just selling your product. I’m often astounded at how self-centered many artists are, and have found myself virtually trapped by artists who are dying to tell me every little (boring) detail about their art. You can bet I avoid those folks later on.
    I have a short list of questions in mind that will bring the conversation full circle, to include the visitor as well as my art and myself. Even if I don’t make a sale, I make a new friend, and potentially someone who will speak well of me to others.

  • Thanks for the advice, I am not a salesperson and would miss something like that. Also, I have been looking for a playing card distributor like that as well for a while. Would you feel okay sharing that info?

    If she would have gotten your card and followed up then you could’ve given her my name as well increasing her business even more. It is a missed opportunity.

  • Patricia: Good idea to have a short list of questions.

    Shannon: Shoot me an email for that contact info. Happy to share–as long as I can find her card!

  • Alyson,
    I favored this post in my email box. While reading it I realized how much I have learned from your solutions. And instead of being overloaded by the info, I am beginning to “get” it. I am coming to the conclusion that the right marketing enables the artist to celebrate with friends, artists, collectors, and art enthusiasts. The effort does take time, but I am beginning to incorporate several tools such as facebook, the blog, newsletters, my site and merge them with my gallery, studio, and workshops–all are mutually supporting one another. The results are showing up in enthusiastic shown by my friends, my art family.
    A big thank you.
    Michael

  • Hi Alyson – funny, I was just reading about the Expo today (in some old newspaper I hadn’t yet read). I’m sorry I missed it – did you like it? Lots of interesting stuff?

    I was also just considering my business cards and if I should use what I have or have some mass produced? Great timing to read your article – I’ll definitely go with mass produced so I can exchange them more often. Thanks!

    oh, and I’d like the same info – the card printing lady? I’ll email you, too. :)

  • Good post Alyson! Thank you!

  • Such a good post! I don’t think I’ve often asked someone who has come through my booth for their card. I need to be more aware of this – and I also like Pat’s idea of a short list of questions.

  • Mary Gravelle

    Alyson, thank you for this great reminder — it’s all about the buyer. I find myself getting so excited about my own artwork that I am most likely telling those boring stories about my art that Patricia has mentioned. I, too, have been looking for card manufacturers and will shoot you an email for the contact into. Patricia, would you be willing to share your questions that bring the conversation full circle so I do not bore anyone else again?

  • Michael: I love this: “I am coming to the conclusion that the right marketing enables the artist to celebrate with friends, artists, collectors, and art enthusiasts” I love the word “celebrate.” It’s so true.

    Jennifer: I don’t have my cards mass produced–except for my biz cards for my book. I do very small runs by myself because I network online more than in person. It depends what your needs are. Going to something like Create Denver is great if only for meeting people. You should get on their mailing list:
    http://www.denvergov.org/GetConnected/REGISTERFridayeBulletin/tabid/426353/Default.aspx

    Becky: It’s not easy, but you can do it if they show interest. And be prepared with pen and paper in case they don’t have a card on them.

  • I agree. Personal business cards allows selection and highlight the information we send out. There are times when we will choose to keep our business affiliation out of the spotlight. In these situations, having a personal business card in hand is very important. Maybe we are jog hunting and plan to keep our current employment on a confidential basis, just give out our personal business card.

  • Alyson,
    The business card dance is a problem in the business world too. It is all I can do not to make some smart remark when I meet someone, ask them for a card and they don’t have one. Why bother print them if you aren’t going to take them everywhere?!

  • [...] people hand you their business cards, what do you do with [...]

  • Good advise… it’s true, people love to talk about themselves, I’m probably just as guilty of that as well. I personally find a room full of creatives can be a bit dizzying… and I don’t always think clear enough to work through a strategy. Thanks for your input :)

  • [...] By conference standards, this wasn’t a big one, but it was sold out. Two-hundred creatives under one roof helped each other solve problems, made connections, and exchanged business cards. [...]

  • [...] By conference standards, this wasn’t a big one, but it was sold out. Two-hundred creatives under one roof helped each other solve problems, made connections, and exchanged business cards. [...]

  • I love my business cards – I always carry some with me (and so does my husband!) I only give them out when appropriate, but I have some of my art on them and they really seem to catch people’s eye.

  • Great point! The thing to remember is people love to talk about themselves. Ask questions and listen carefully. Say, how can I help you? What can I do for you? Don’t bore them by only talking about yourself unless they ask you questions.