How to Manage all those Business Cards

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The situation is common to people starting on a referral networking campaign: you've been diligent in attending networking functions—making connections, getting your name before the public—and you have a mountain of business cards to prove it.

1. Prioritize - Regardless of your system, the first thing you need to do is sort your contacts according to their potential importance to your network.

The A list consists of contacts with whom you definitely want to develop relationships and maintain regular contact, whose cards you want to keep near at hand.

The B list includes contacts whose cards you might want to keep for possible reference, but that don’t meet the A-list criteria.

The C list is everybody else—people or industries you don't want or expect to contact.

2. Organize - Any two-way relationship, whether personal or business, is based on a familiarity with each other's interests, skills, preferences, ambitions, and desires. It is also based on making contact often enough to avoid being forgotten or ignored. Once you've sorted everything into three piles, you can start to organize your A-list database by alphabetizing your cards, grouping them by region or industry or profession, cross-referencing them or applying any other criteria that fit your profession and your business habits.

3. Follow Up - Your filing system may differ, but the importance of using it to make and maintain contact is vital. Write out a schedule and set goals for making contacts. You could set aside 30 minutes each day to look through your file and choose someone to call. Or you could leave the time factor open and set a goal to call five, 10 or 20 contacts, new and old, every week.

BNI ( is a referral networking organization, which at last count had over 3,600 individual chapters in 22 countries worldwide. BNI's Founder & CEO, Dr. Ivan Misner is the author of several book’s including the NY Times best-seller, Masters of Networking, ( and the recently released #1 best-seller, Masters of Success (


Michael Drew



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