Thursday, March 16, 2006

Just Say No To Drive-by Carding

I've had quite a few conversations now about how informative and inspirational Keith Ferrazzi's presentation was the other day at the Microsoft Small Business Summit. Truly worthwhile, so I still recommend checking out the webcast now that they've managed to resolve most of the technical issues.

At least one guy who was there must have missed the point though. As I was getting ready to leave at the end of the day, one gentleman stopped by just long enough to give me the 5 second version of who he is and what he does and to give me a business card. I truly have no idea what I'll do with it. Chuck it, if I'm smart, but I anticipate my packrat tendencies and a desire to be 'nice' will mean that I'll stare at it while before that happens. Really, he could have made a little more effort to find out if I even wanted his card; that way maybe he wouldn't have wasted it or, more importantly, wouldn't have burdened me with it.

I had to laugh though - his next stop was to quite literally toss a card in the general direction of the guy with whom I'd had some pretty good conversation during the day and toss off the name of his business - all without breaking a stride. I have half a mind to check with Keith to see if this pegs his "eww - gross" meter as much as mine; I am reasonably certain it would.

Hey, even people who export their entire list of Outlook Contacts into LinkedIn are on stronger footing - at least they are more likely to have some level of connection with the folks in their Contacts folder. I not so sure that's quite as true of the people I'm finding who have 500+ contacts listed in LinkedIn. I mean, how well can you really know 500 people? While it certainly makes sense to keep in touch with as many people as possible, quality has to count for something.

And that, of course, was what gave me the chuckle about the drive-by carder. I'm sure he heard somewhere that you should be sure to give out at least 10-20 (or whatever number people tell you - I so do not know that number and don't care to) business cards when at a networking event. And I'm equally sure that he got to the end of the day and realized he'd given out less than half of them already. He'd have been better off focusing on more more decent conversation with someone where he really got to know the person. Even someone who doesn't need his services could be a great referral resource if he'd managed to bond with him or her even a little bit. Unfortunately, that person is not too likely to be me.

So - do you have funny networking stories or embarrassing moments you'd be willing to share? Send them to me at and we'll see what we can learn... or at least have a good laugh.

What does real bonding and connection look like and feel like for you?

Kimm Viebrock is a Certified Professional Coach who helps technology professionals and service-oriented technology groups develop and use their skills more effectively and increase their value within the larger organizaion, allowing them to do more, do it better and have more fun doing it. Kimm is devoted to finding the connectedness in life.