Before going out to network, there is a standard checklist of items that no networker can leave home without. Some are very obvious, such as business cards, minty gum (no TicTacs, jingle too much) and pen and paper. Here are my recommendations for those random items you probably wouldn’t always think of.
This steel business card thumb slider works great and I purchased it from eBay for only a dollar. However, it comes from Hong Kong so it’s going to take 2 weeks to get to you. It’s great because you only need one hand to use it, as opposed to the clam shell business card holder, where you need two hands. Save one hand to hold a drink or to hold one of these…
I take one of these bad boys to all of my meetings and networking events. It lets people know you mean business. It’s useful because you can take notes on it (or pretend to), put in flyers or papers, or organize other people’s business cards in there, which is better than filling up your pockets with cards. Don’t skimp out on the leather (I did and regret it). They’re more elegant than the plastic ones, and they’re usually more durable.
Download Evernote on your phone and take pictures of business cards or take text and audio notes where they’re then uploaded onto your Evernote notebook online. It’s fast, easy, and searchable.
If you’re a power networker, or if you’re always forgetting your business cards, then you’re going to need backup business cards because the Thumb Slider can only hold up to 20 standard cards. So keep a refill in your padfolio and in your wallet. I also keep a big stack in my car, just in case both backups run out.
Networking can be sometimes fun, scary, exhausting, or weird, so that’s why you need a networking partner, especially if you’re just starting out.
I would recommend a cute girl, but a good looking guy should do just fine. Here are some uses for a sidekick:
Let the sidekick go into a group, and wait for his signal so he can introduce you to the person or the group. Before hand, agree on the type of introduction he’d make for you, and you receprocate when you make introductions for him or her.
Sometimes, you’re going to meet people that you regret talking to, so that’s why a Sidekick is there to help. Just have a code signal for “Rescue Me” before hand, and presto, he’ll force-eject you out of there before the other person bores you to death.
If you’re finding yourself getting a lot of silent gaps when you talk to people, then a Sidekick is perfect for tag teaming a conversation. I sometimes run out of things to say, so I just turn to my Sidekick, smile, and wait for him to take over the convo. It works wonders.
What do you think? Are there any other tools you would recommend for a business networking tool kit?