Are you ready when someone asks for your business card? I’m not talking about the situations where you expect to be asked (like at bridal shows, networking events, trade shows, conferences, etc.), but when you least expect to be asked? For example, when you are taking Uber to a hockey game, dropping your kids off at school or a soccer game, when you’re at a restaurant or a movie with a few friends, or checking out at the grocery store. These days there is no such thing as being “off duty,” you always need to be prepared.
Uber drivers travel too
I recently had Uber pick me up and take me to our arena for a hockey game watch party. One thing about Uber and Lyft drivers is that they are chatty. My driver was no different. By the end of our short trip he asked for my business card. I’m in a car going to a hockey game. I’m not “working” or actively networking at that moment in time, but I have someone asking for my business card. Fortunately I had business cards in my purse and I was able to give him three as I exited the car. Then, I had half a dozen people ask for my business card during that hockey game watch party as well. Those would have been missed opportunities if I didn’t have business cards with me.
The grocery store
Personally, this was one of my biggest stumbling blocks. Most of my grocery shopping is done on weekends, and typically early in the morning. I throw on clothes, grab the wallet, keys and shopping list (note, no purse) and I’m out the door. For the longest time this was not an issue. But then I took some advice from Vicki Freed (at Royal Caribbean) and it became an issue. Vicki’s advice was to take canvas bags I got from suppliers at trade shows, and use them as my grocery bags. I took it one step further and make a point of wearing travel related T-shirts or sweatshirts when I’m “off work” and leisurely around town. These two things have sparked travel-related conversations. Checkers and baggers at the store ask about a supplier on one of the canvas bags. Total strangers strike up conversations because of some shirt I’m wearing (they’ve been to that destination, heard about that cruise ship, etc.).
I have had conversations at the UPS store, in line at the local sandwich shop, when I popped into an office supply store real quick for a case of printer paper. You get the idea. Running errands while wearing travel related clothing equals travel related conversations. Most of these conversations tend to lead to me revealing that I’m a travel consultant. And there is the problem. They ask for a business card. I only grabbed my wallet and keys because I wasn’t going to be out long. It’s my “day off” any way. I don’t have my purse, meaning no business cards with me. How awkward is that? Trust me, it’s awkward. And I can guarantee you I’ve lost potential business as a result.
I now keep a stash of business cards in my car’s center console. I also have four business cards shoved into my wallet at all times (four is all that will fit with everything else). And I carry my purse a lot more often, even if it’s going to be a short trip to run some quick errands.
Do you remember the American Express advertising slogan “don’t leave home without it”? Apply that to your business cards. Never walk out of your house without at least a couple of business cards within reach, either in your car, in a back pocket, or in your wallet.
Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel (www.shipsntripstravel.com) located in Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations (www.kickbuttvacations.com) she focuses on travel for 18 to 23 year olds. Susan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (888) 221-1209.