Before smartphones business cards made sense. Now they're just extra baggage for everyone to lug around conferences and networking events.

Christine Grové
Christine is a journalist from South Africa, who has lived and worked in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, covering everything from hard news to art to business & tech. Having been bitten by the travel bug as an infant, Christine finds it fairly easy to uproot herself in search of new adventures and stories. With degrees in both fine arts and journalism, she’s equally interested in visual storytelling as well as the written word. Having been part of three launch teams of three different media startups in her lifetime, she’s intimately familiar with what it takes to get a publication off the ground.

It was 6 p.m. and the networking mixer was just kicking off at a conference I attended earlier this year. As people filed into the hotel bar, people loosened up, and conversations started flowing.

As groups formed and broke up, the same question would come up as the conversation winded down, “Do you have a card?”. Then everyone in the circle would frantically exchange cards and go on their merry way.

I’d wake up the next day with 20 cards, forgetting who was who and viewing the cards as a burden over a tool.

Business cards are an antiquated tool used for networking before the invention of smartphones.

So I’ve stopped giving out business cards and I’ve stopped taking them. Here’s what I do instead–and why you should consider it, too.

Taking it past a piece of paper

If you’re enjoying a conversation with someone at a networking event, take the connection past exchanging business cards.

If you’re in a group, quickly add each other to LinkedIn or take down everyone’s email. Then in real time, send them an email or message saying, “Great to meet you just now.”

This positions you as the forward thinker in the group and saves everyone from carrying around an extra piece of paper they’re inevitably going to throw out.

Follow-up

Exchanging information at a conference is easy, something most people do with ease.

Following up the next day is borderline effortless, yet very few people do it. When it comes to networking, your job is to build relationships with people. Relationships take serious time to cultivate and serious follow through by both sides.

It’s easy to converse at a conference when it’s convenient. It’s a lot harder to go for coffee with a relative stranger a few weeks later

A simple, “It was great chatting about XYZ. I look forward to seeing you at a future event.” or “Hey, it was great to meet you, I’d love to continue our conversation over coffee next week. What times work for you?”

Be someone who gives value

Your number one goal at networking events should be to see how you can help people who are attending. These events can be awkward, weird and very clique-like. Don’t be one of those, instead get into the conversation and give your full attention to those you’re speaking with. While you’re listening, think of people you should connect this person with or resources they might find interesting or any other way you can help them.

Taking this approach will leave that person with a positive memory of you and they’ll want to be around you more as you become a valuable resource.