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Networking: it's in the cards.

Take a look in your wallet or business portfolio. Chances are a host of business cards are lurking among the receipts and shreds of paper with notes scribbled on them. If you're like most busy professionals, putting a face to the name printed on half of those cards is a frustrating guessing game. Even trying to remember where or why you collected those cards in the first place may prove elusive. If these scenarios hit home, you're underutilizing your business card resources, and the people who gave them to you aren't benefiting from your services either. Organization can ensure that you get as good as you give in your business card exchanges.

One of the first rules of effective networking is the active and consistent exchange of business cards for future information, services or contacts. But if half those cards go unused or wind up in the trash, what's the point of collecting them? Exchanging cards with a purpose and a plan helps solve this dilemma. "There's a science to networking," says Muhammad Zahir, a partner in Access Washington D.C., an information management and human resources network for African-American entrepreneurs and professionals. By getting serious, organized and consistent about your business card exchanges, the rest will fall into place.

Shuffling through a stack of old, unmarked business cards to locate that one specific card is a common, telltale sign of disorganized networking. Aside from being time-consuming, this method is often unproductive, since it works only if you can recall the individual's services by just looking at his or her name, title or company name. "What helped me initially was simply getting a business card holder," says Elizabeth Edwards, manager of capital accumulations programs at PepsiCo Inc. in Purchase, N.Y. The use of a separate case makes business cards easily accessible and readable.

Immediately jotting down brief, descriptive facts about a new contact directly on his or her business card can help identify the person and the nature of your encounter long after you've parted company. "Noting a particular point of reference on the card will equip you with a suitable ice breaker the next time you speak," advises Zahir. Coding collected cards to designate a priority level for follow-up phone calls is another suggestion Zahir offers.

Having a central repository for all your business cards rounds out the organizational process. Cards should be dated, indexed and cross-referenced as soon as possible, so they don't pile up or get lost. They can be filed any way it's easiest for you to quickly identify and retrieve them. "My business card file is arranged according to the type of function where I collected the card," says Sondra Townsend-Browne, deputy director and CFO for the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions in New York.

Finally, make a point to actually call the people who impressed you enough to take their card. A 10-minute conversation can uncover a new source, add a new client or introduce a new product to your business repertoire. In turn, the cards you've given out may produce similar results for you.


* The Conference Board is scheduled to convene its ninth annual Business-Education Conference on March 8 and 9 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. Call 212-759-0900 for further information.

* The National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters is slated to host its annual awards dinner March 11 at the Sheraton Washington Hotel in Washington, D.C. For further information, call 202-463-8970.

* The National Society of Black Engineers is scheduled to hold its 19th annual conference March 17-21 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. Call 703-549-2207 for more information.

* The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education is scheduled to convene its annual conference March 31-April 4 at the Washington Hilton Hotel. For more information, call 282-543-9111.

* The American Health and Beauty Aids Institute is scheduled to hold its fifth annual Proud Lady Beauty Show, April 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago. Call 312-321-6824 for more information.

* For more information on other conventions, check the January 1993 issue of BLACK ENTERPRISE, which features the 1993 BE/Kraft General Foods Calendar of Events. To let BE know of upcoming events in your area, address all correspondence to Networking News, BLACK ENTERPRISE, 130 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10011. Information cannot be returned.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:business cards
Author:Baskerville, Dawn M.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Mar 1, 1993
Previous Article:Black business loses a star: Lewis dies of cancer at 50.
Next Article:More black power in Congress.

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