Several years ago there was a Farside cartoon where in both panels, the owner is scolding his dog. In the first was what we say: “Bad dog, Ginger!  You stay out of the garbage! Do you hear me, Ginger?” or something to that effect.  In the second was what they hear “blah blah Ginger blah blah blah blah blah blah Ginger”.

Well, a similar effect occurs when someone asks for our business card.  What we think they are thinking is:

Oh, boy! I’m getting one of Greg Peters’ business cards! I’m going to take it home right now and search through my contacts to find someone I can connect him with.  Maybe I can hire him! Oh, maybe he’ll give me two cards.  That way I can frame one of them and hang it over my desk and then pass the other along to someone special in my network!

What they are actually thinking could be any of the following:

  • Seems like a nice guy. Maybe I’ll call him.
  • I can’t remember his name.
  • I’ll put this on the stack on my desk and get to it as soon as I can.
  • If I take his card then I can give him one of mine.
  • If I take his card maybe he’ll go away so I can go get some lunch.
Now, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but really, believe it or not, the percentage of people who ask for your card who then actually do something beneficial for you with it is probably around one percent. It’s certainly not as high as ten percent.
So, what can you do to beat the odds?
Simple. If you want to talk with them again, ask them for their business card (whether or not they ask you for yours). Then, when you return to the office, you follow through. Send them an email.  Give them a call. Schedule a coffee. If you had a decent conversation, connect with them on your favorite social media site.
Just remember, someone asking you for your card does not mean that the connection has been made. At best it means that they are open to continuing the networking relationship. That means the next step is up to you.