It’s who knows you, not just who you know

Two  things surprise me about my mentor meetings with entrepreneurs:

  1. Very, very few have business cards.
  2. Very, very few have signature files (sigfiles) in their email.

Now I realize I am an old fogey and that email is going the way of landlines in this day and age of messaging apps, Facebook, and other social media.

But, email IS still used in business and and having a business card can be an easy way to provide your contact info – if you want to go high tech with it, include a QR code that people can scan to import your contact data. A well-designed, high impact business card can help create a good impression in that all important first meeting. But maybe you will be seen as old school and out of it. I’ll be checking with my student mentees at MIT this summer  to see what they think of using business cards.

You can design your own business cards with a product like Business Card Composer. It has dozens of templates, so you don’t have to spend money on a designer. You can then buy Avery White Two-Side Printable Clean Edge Business Cards 5871 and print your cards for yourself and your team. If you later get a logo for your company or something else changes  – like your company name or title – it’s easy to print new cards.

Unlike the possible downside of business cards, I can’t see a downside to using a sigfile. First, it’s a great way to promote your web site or blog if it’s included in every email, and second, it makes it easy for people like me to just copy and paste from your sigfile to my contact database.

So what should you put in a sigfile and what should you exclude?

  1. Use dashes or some other symbol to create a dividing line between your contact info and the body of your email message.
  2. It may seem redundant to include my email address as obviously anyone I email will have it, but it just makes it easier for the recipient to copy and paste it into their contact db or send it to a colleague. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to contact you. You do run the risk of spammers grabbing your email, but this has never been a problem for me – Gmail has great spam filtering.
  3. After your email address, the next most important item is your web site or blog. I’ve decided to label my url as “blog” just to set people’s expectations correctly.
  4. Your Twitter handle is useful but not mandatory if you aren’t actively posting on Twitter.
  5. A link to your public LinkedIn profile can make it easy for people with common names to be found. There are few “Stephen Bayles” on LinkedIn but there could be dozens of “William Smiths”.
  6. You might want to include your Skype handle if you are a heavy Skype user.
  7. If you have an office by all means includes the address.  But if you’re like me and working out of your home/Starbucks/Panera etc. it’s not worth including your home address, but up to you though.
  8. Finally DO NOT include your phone number, especially if it’s a mobile number, as it should be 99% of the time! Once spammers get your mobile number you will have a hard time avoiding telemarketing calls.

So by all means be a social media maven, but ignore these two old-school ways of helping people find and contact you at your peril!

 

 

Author: Mentorphile

Mentor, coach, and advisor to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and non-profit organizations. General manager with significant experience in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Focus on media and information. On founding team of four venture-backed companies. Currently Chairman of Popsleuth, Inc., maker of the Endorfyn app for keeping fans updated on new stuff from their favorite artists.

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