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Business cards have been part of business forever. But, the Internet finally has applications that reduce the need for business cards.

Laurie Percival mentioned that while at the SXSW conference she used Contxts, a new SMS-based service that shares business card information with someone by just sending their mobile phone number to an SMS “short code.”

There are many times when you don’t have business cards to give to a new acquaintance. You might be at a conference and run out. Or, you might be at such a casual location that your business cards aren’t handy. Both seem to occur a lot at SXSW!

There are two ways to use Contxts. One way is to send your contact’s mobile phone number to Contxts and they will send your business card information to your contact’s mobile phone. Or, your contact can text your user ID to Contxts at 50500 and retrieve your business card data via SMS.

One of the extra benefits of Contxts is that you can list all of your favorite social media addresses in your profile, which you couldn’t include on a paper business card.

Contxts won’t replace paper business cards, but as they add features it should reduce the keying of new contacts into a contact manager.

I was talking with Kathleen Ronald recently, who is an expert on networking techniques, and she shared a networking tip that I’ve never heard before.

Following up with new contacts from a networking event is very important. However, it takes time to enter people in a contact manager and write appropriate e-mails.

Kathleen said that the way to make sure you follow up quickly is to block out time on your calendar for following up at the same time you add the networking event to your calendar.

This sounded very easy to do — until I started doing it. It turned out to be harder than I expected to find a block of time between meetings and other tasks to focus on following up with new contacts, but it’s helped me contact people a few days sooner.

By the way, Kathleen Ronald, “the Queen of Business Networking,” speaks at conferences and regional events, as well as coaches individuals and corporate teams. If you want to be a better networker call Kathleen.

Meeting organizers face interesting challenges as their event approaches. Take, for example, the situation faced by Cindy Klaverkamp, senior event planner for Creative Memories, who had a two-day regional convention with 300 Creative Memories consultants scheduled in Pittsburgh.

The collapse of some concrete flooring in Pittsburgh’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center February 5 forced the facility to close temporarily and had several groups scrambling to find different venues or dates for their meetings.


The 6-inch-thick concrete floor in a loading area collapsed under the weight of a tractor-trailer, sending a mixture of concrete, steel, and equipment onto a public area below, and leaving the tractor-trailer trapped in a 20-by-60-foot hole in the floor/ceiling. No one was hurt.

Fortunately for Cindy, her vendors cooperated and she was able to move the event, acquire audiovisual equipment, and change a variety of other details that came up instantly.


This is an extreme example of the roof falling in, but it’s always important to be able to contact vendors quickly.


One way to keep this data handy is to store vendor contact data in your Contacts manager, then add them to a Contact Group you call “Vendors.” Wherever you are when you need a complete list of vendors and contact information, just click over to your “Vendors” group.


You may never invite all of your vendors to a meeting or party (although Cindy might), but a robust contact manager can keep vendor contact data accessible from any Web browser.

Storing contact data in a contact manager’s database makes it easy to retrieve contact data. However, you need to remember to retrieve that data and actually contact your contacts.

After all, the whole point of networking is to create a network of contacts that you know — and who know you — so you can work together on projects and activities. The people who you interact with frequently you have “top of mind awareness” — it’s easy to think of including them in your projects and activities.

But what about those other people in your network? How will you remember to include them when you have an opportunity appropriate for them? And how will they remember to include you in their projects and activities?

The answer to both questions lies in increasing the frequency that you contact the people in your network. As your network grows this becomes harder to manage.
The solution is to use a feature in your contact management system or CRM software that reminds you when it’s time to renew the contact. Good contact management and CRM tools make it easy to create a reminder when it’s time to contact someone. In CRM systems this is frequently called a task or action item. Set the date for the task for month or two in the future. Then, the software will float the item to the top of your to do list when it’s time to renew a contact.

Unfortunately, most address book programs do not include good contact management features. If your address book program has a calendar you can create “appointments” in the future to remind you when to renew a contact. Just be sure these calendar entries aren’t confused or obscure actual meetings and events on your calendar that you need to attend.

SureToMeet includes a “Next Contact Date” feature in the contact management area that makes this easier. After each networking event, just go down the list of contacts who attended the event and update the “Next Contact Date” field. SureToMeet will remind you when it’s time to renew each contact.

Keeping in touch with your new contacts is a great way to grow acquaintances into relationships into a network of relationships.

Just make sure your contact manager is up to the task of reminding you when its time to renew each contact.

It doesn’t take long to accumulate more contacts than you can manage with a business card file or address book. Today, the best way to manage the network of contacts is with a high-quality contact management software program or Web site service.

Many people now use contact management software on a personal computer. By using software on your computer you’re assured the contacts are easily available when you’re at your computer. These days, however, we’re more mobile and need our contacts in more places than we can take our desktop computer — or even our laptop computer.

The newest way to always have your contacts close at hand is by using one of the Web-based contact management services that you can use anywhere you have access to the Internet. In addition, the best contact management services also sync your contacts to your PDA or smartphone.

Address book software programs keep a wide range of fields of data. However, they’re limited in their ability to help you actually manage interactions with your network of contacts. That’s where Web-based contact management services really shine.

These services make it easy to store traditional address book data, but it can also automatically update your data when your contacts change their phone number, e-mail address, or other data. In addition, those contacts who allow you to see their personal or business profile can automatically keep you up-to-date on what they’re doing.

No matter how you store contact information, be sure the software or Web-based service is flexible, works with your mobile communications, and helps you achieve your networking objectives.

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