Card less networking
In this digital age share contact information with card less networking which is kinder to the environment and your desk drawers!
During lockdown as an extrovert, I struggled. My fantasy was to be in a room with 5000 complete strangers, preferably with a glass of dodgy conference wine in my hand. A post COVID benefit seems to be that people are keen to meet new people and appear to be more open to engaging. Perhaps, to quote the song we ddn’t realise what we had until it was gone.
Now that dream has come true and this week I am attending the #UnleashWorld in Paris, my first in-person large-scale event in 3 years. Mid conference report is that there is definitely renewed energy around in person networking. Whether this is about this particular event, which has always had a great vibe, or the fab sunny weather in an autumnal Paris – you tell me.
One of my goals was to make it a card less networking event so I explored ideas on how to do this before I went.
I am not a fan of the networking tactic of “scoring card” as a means of evaluating someone’s success at a networking event. I also don’t like it when a person thrusts a card into my hand before transactionally moving on to the next victim
In a digital age, there has to be ways of sharing contact information without appearing creepy. I have been asked for my phone number and was horrified to receive unwanted WhatsApp messages and texts with links to that person’s promotional material. Someone even asked if they could take a photo of me. I find getting home with piles of cards and then going through them to connect on LinkedIn tiresome, with always a risk of losing one, or all of them.
Then of course they just get binned or clutter up a drawer in your desk.
It’s also a way to protect the environment
So here are some tips:
1. Use a QR code
Post covid we became accustomed to using QR codes in restaurants and although LinkedIn has had the QR code for a while I haven’t seen it used much, until now and I was committed to doing the same.
There are two options:
- Straight from LinkedIn
To find yours tap on the search bar on the mobile app and it appears on the top right. For me it worked better with the phone turned horizontally.
- Adding logo or an icon via an app
I created this by copy-pasting my LinkedIn URL into a free QR code app and keeping it on my phone.
It seemed to work. The quality isn’t ideal but I suspect that is more about the creator than the app.
Photograph someone’s business card
I had a few cards left from pre-COVID days and some preferred to just take a photo. That is fine, but you lose control and the drive to connect then comes from the other person. So this is very much a second choice for me.
There used to be apps where you could just bump smartphones together but they seem to have disappeared.
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3. Inhouse app
Many events have their own inhouse app now. UNLEASH, at the forefront of HR and Tech, has an award winning app which is very comprehensive. I used it to connect with people in advance and arrange meetings and coffees.
So if you are signing up for a big conference check out if there is one available.
Input from experts
Melanie Goodman LinkedIn Trainer and Consultant said “I absolutely love using the QR code feature at events …Its also a great conversation starter as few know it exists! FYI your dream is my nightmare, I am not naturally extrovert”
This was endorsed by Mic Adam a Belgian-based LinkedIn Trainer and Ambassador who frequently uses it at events. He adds “an extra benefit is you can teach people a new trick – using the QR code to connect”
And a super bonus tip from Kevin D. Turner U.S LinkedIn expert “If you have Creator Mode on, temporarily turn it off during the event, so that the people you meet that scan your QR will have the option to connect, not just Follow 1st. Turn it back on when you get back in to work and all is back to normal.”
At the end of Day 1 at #UNLEASHworld I can confirm that most people have stopped using cards. It was a tech conference, so everyone seemed very comfortable using QR codes, so no teaching moments there for me. Scanning from badges was not consistent, so going directly to the LinkedIn QR code was a perfect solution which I saved on my phone screen. Other times we just went direct to LinkedIn and keyed in the name.
Overall, if my experience is anything to go by, card less networking is here to stay and business cards will become museum pieces.
What ideas do you have for networking without business cards?
Happy big event networking
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