It happens. Sometimes I can be overly friendly. I love meeting people and finding out what they do. Reality hit me recently in the face at a conference lunch: I don't need to know everybody and they don't need to know me. Here's how it happened . . .
A friend and I asked if we could join a group of people waiting for a table. They said yes. When we were seated, I started passing out business cards. "Whose card is this?" one person demanded.
"It's mine." I said.
"Why do I have it? I don't even know if I need to know you," the first person remarked.
Another person chimed in, "We need to meet each other first before we give out cards."
So, the table rules were set.
I'm so used to going to friendly lunches and passing out cards that I forgot my networking manners: find out if there's a match and then ask for the other person's card first.
One of my motivational speaker friends is the nicest guy in the world. Yet, he only brings two cards to every event. And, he only brings them out if he feels there's someone he wants to talk with later. He doesn't even give out his email or phone number to the table. At first, I thought his approach conflicted with his brand of being approachable, enthusiastic and entertaining. But, it doesn't.
What if the person you're having lunch with is someone you never care to see again?
Think about it, they may a wonderful person, maybe you share some hobbies or you're both parents of adorable kids - how does this contact fit into your professional network? How do you feel when you give your card to someone and they automatically add you to their email list or invite you to join their LinkedIn network? Do you think it's better to give your twitter id or your URL than hand over a business card with your address, phone number and email contact information?
Thanks to Martin Wales, creator of Customer Catcher, for the inspiration and to Christina Hills, Shopping Cart Queen, who invited me to join them for dinner. We talked about this incident and Martin came up with the term "analog spam."