This is the third in the “Limited Networker Field Guide” series.
Name: The Shifty-Handed Deck Dealer
Environment: Moving from table to table at any event.
Behavior: The Deck Dealer has the mis-impression that the more of her business cards she hands out, the more business she will get. To that end she moves from table to table, conversation to conversation, interrupting the natural flow of events in order to pass out one or two or a handful of her cards to everyone present.
Broken Rules of Good Networking: Wait until they ask. The only person that the Deck Dealer is making happy is her printer. She can go through a box of cards in one evening and usually has to order by the case. For everyone else, the plethora of personal placards merely places a burden on them of finding a convenient garbage can. Good networking is always about the other person. With business cards the only time yours are about them is when they ask. Even then, the likelihood of someone acting upon that card is somewhere between slim and none. That’s why, when someone asks for your card, you should always ask for theirs, so you can take the initiative and follow up.
You can even ask if it’s OK to call them regarding whatever reason they asked for your card. It saves them the effort and tells them that you care about them and their time.
Counter-Measures: As with most of these ineffective behaviors, the best you can hope for is to ignore it. Just take the proffered card and continue with the conversation that the person interrupted. The Deck Dealer probably won’t even pause long enough to make sure you stick it in your pocket instead of dropping it on the floor.
How We Can Help: If you really want to help, one of the best things you can do is to just stop them. The best way to do that is just to ask “I know you are trying to talk to a lot of people today, but would you be willing to tell me a little bit more about what you do?” That will force them to slow down and through good questioning, you might even be able to find a way to help them.