We live in an era of instant gratification, enabled by an all-digital environment in a state of constant networking. Yet, the most crucial of all stages of networking, that initial “hello”, continues to be served by the 300 years old paper Business Card.
You’ve got to have been in situations where you’ve just met somebody in-person and want to get “connected” – A business lead, a professional/social connection. In fact, it need not even be “someone“, it could simply be “something“. A store, a restaurant, a food truck, a cool gadget, a product you want to know more about.
All of these “discoveries” are instantaneous, perhaps even fleeting. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other well entrenched social media platforms are “Lazy Networks” (as opposed to Instantaneous), especially in the First Mile.
So how does one take these “offline” discoveries to an “online”, interactive state ? How do we traverse the First Mile and get to where the world is flat ?
If you think about it, for over 300 Years now, there is but ONE tool that does has and continues to do this job – The humble Business Card.
Business Cards are the worlds oldest Marketing & Networking tool. Not surprisingly, todays digital world has taken the Marketing burden off the Business Card’s shoulders. What is surprising however is the fact that over 10 Billion business cards continue to be exchanged in the US alone.
Some Business Card Facts
Used but Painful
The search for a digital alternative to Business Cards is as old as the Palm Pilot and continues into the smartphone age. A variety of apps, some more popular than others have done their bit to solve a part of the problem.
Some scan paper cards, some others merely create a new contact profile on the phone and let you send it via email, sms all the way to NFC, wifi direct and blue tooth.
All of these solutions do not go deep enough to address the root of the problem and are partial solutions at best. As long as there isn’t a REAL solution, the value of Instant Networking will continue to be underexposed and underutilized by the Business Card
A Partial solution is No solution
There is an emotional appeal to the Business Card. In fact in Japan, it’s not just emotional but highly ritualistic – Meishi Kokan.
Suffice to say that this is a well entrenched (300 Years old) behavior pattern, consequently, not easy to dislodge. Certainly not with partial solutions.
So what now ?
The first step to a solution is to have a clear understanding of the problem. If one were to dissect the Business Card lifecycle, one would come to the following conclusion
Furthermore, Business Cards are pretty gregarious creatures. They get handed out when two people meet (1×1), amongst a group (NxN)or wait for you to pick them up at a Doctors office, or a lawyers office or a Restaurant (1xN)
While dead easy to “transact”, that piece of paper loses its value soon after. It’s no surprise that 88% of Business Cards get thrown out within the first week. It’s obvious why (LinkedIn, Facebook, Email, Address Book).
But that really is the Billion $$ eureka moment for a solution. Let me write it again:
88% of Business Cards get thrown out within the first week.
And therein lies the difference between Instant Networking and Lazy Networking. ~1 Week
If you met a 100 people, how long does it take for you to get connected to them ? Not to mention the time it’ll take for you to send them the LinkedIn invites in the first place !!
Isn’t the best time to do anything….Now!!
Enter Instant Networking
- Your Business Card remained your Business Card when getting inside the Smartphone instead of getting mangled and reconstructed
- It also acquired the ability to come alive via rich media. The ability to tell your story, your product’s story
- Contained all your Lazy Networking social profiles, neatly packaged and easily connectable
- ..and was able to Instantly connect; between 2 people, amongst a group or made available to anyone around
- Automatically updated when “things” changed in your network.
- Neatly stored all your connections in a weightless Rolodex
- Added and allowed you to add context to your connections
- Quickly search and retrieve any contact, connection or a potential lead
- …and yes, Scan a business card too (although we’d much like to see a world that doesn’t need the paper business card in the first place)
What if your Business Card ceased to be something you just handed out, but became your Instant Networking Digital Persona. Something that actually minded your Business.
What if you got a WizCard