Contact Cards, Networking, & the Holidays

The Army Navy Game, alumni football games and the winter holidays are upon us. Many job seekers are traveling home to visit classmates, family, and friends over the next few months. If you are job hunting, these people are a source of referrals for job leads. You will want to have a contact card ready to share. This is not the time to write your information down on a scrap of paper or grocery receipt and hope the recipient saves it. Also, do you really want your information given to a hiring manager or your future employer on a grocery receipt?

A contact card is very similar to a business card. It demonstrates you display a high degree of professionalism and are serious about presenting yourself in a favorable manner. Listed below are the key elements you will want to be sure are on your card and some things to keep in mind when designing your contact card.

Key Elements of Your Contact Card

 Name – Use your full name to include your middle initial or the name you use on LinkedIn. Hiring managers will search online for you by name. Ensure you are consistent with how you use your name online and keep it professional. Research has shown when you use a middle initial you are seen in a more positive competent manner and ultimately receive a higher salary.

Degree(s) conferred – Right after your name list your degrees conferred, such as MD, JD, Ph.D., BS, AA etc. You only list the highest degree conferred. The exception to this rule is if the job you are seeking uses a lower level degree that is a different discipline than the higher degree. If you do not have your degree but have an anticipated graduation date – put Anticipated Graduation Date followed by month and year on the line beneath your name.

LinkedIn URL – This will let people know they can find out more about you and your skills online. Place your LinkedIn URL on the line below your name. LinkedIn is no longer an option. It is a key tool for job hunting. Make sure you have customized your LinkedIn URL.

Phone Number – Do not use a work phone number. You want your card to be relevant after you leave the military or your present place of employment. I recommend you use your cell phone and not a home phone number. Your cell phone is always with you. Do NOT forget to put your area code on your contact card.

Physical Address – Placing your physical address is optional. If you are willing to relocate I do not recommend using a physical address.

Email Address & Email Service Provider– You MUST have a professional email address. Do not use a work email or a school email. You want an address that you will have access to when you are no longer employed or attending college. Keep your email address sounding professional and don’t use addresses like “hotchickatyahoo.com” or “wildman226@gmail.com.  If you are a Veteran due not use your military occupational specialty in your address. Also, do not use the year you were born in your email address. You do not want to have someone discriminate against you based on what you did in the military or age. Use a grown-up email provider. Do not use Yahoo, Hotmail, or AOL. Upgrade your email to Gmail or use a personalized email that you can get when you purchase a domain name for a website or blog.

Things to Consider

Back of the Card – Leave the back of your contact card blank – Do not list your job title or your skills. You do not want to limit your marketability by having a limited list of skills or job titles. There is not room to list everything or every version of what you can do for an employer. Also, when you leave the back blank the recipient can use it to jot themselves a note or reminder about you.

Military Affiliation – Military affiliation is an optional item. I recommend having one card that shows you are a Veteran and another that does not. If you are networking with military-friendly companies, then you would use the card that shows your military affiliation. Do NOT put your rank on your business card. This can cause someone to stereotype or discriminate against you based on rank and not look at your current education or skill sets.

Card Stock – Ensure your contact card is made from a quality card stock. Do not attempt to print them off on your home computer. I always recommend upgrading to a premium card stock. It will be heavier weight than a budget card. Rounded corners will also make your card stand out.

Font – Use a font that is professional and large enough to be read. Now is not the time to be cute or overly creative. A contact card is not that big. When you proof your card online you may be able to read the font. But, when you get it in your hand you may not. As I have gotten older reading cards has gotten harder.

Color – I recommend a simple yet timeless, elegant and classy white card with black lettering. However, know your industry. If you choose to go with a colored card and colored font make sure it is readable. Again, I have cards on my desk where I cannot read the font due to the color.

Picture – I do not recommend putting a picture on your card. Again, you do not want to be discriminated against because you are not the ideal weight, or have a hair color, hair style, body art etc. that does not resonate with the hiring manager.

When you are attending alumni football homecomings, holiday parties, and work functions don’t force your card upon anyone. It is polite to ask for their card. Typically, when you ask if they have a card they will, in turn, ask for your card. Then when the person asks if you have a card, you will be ready. Also, when people ask what you are up to you can say you are job hunting and ask them to let anyone they know that may be hiring that you are looking. After you leave the event you can follow up with that person by sending a hand-written note and include one or two contact cards.

Holidays are a great time to send cards in the mail. Yes, people still enjoy receiving a card in the mail. You have Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years Day to name just a few of the observed holidays. Send quality holiday cards to your Aunts, Uncles, cousins, previous co-workers, and high school friends. If you belong to industry specific organizations and an alumni organization I recommend sending cards to those you know too. Don’t forget your mail carrier and other service providers you interact with on a daily or periodic basis. Include two contact cards in your holiday greeting card. One card for the recipient to keep and one for the recipient to share.

Your contact card is just one tool you should have in your job-hunting toolbox. It only takes a person a few seconds to see you and your contact card and form an opinion of you. Ensure your contact card represents you in a positive manner.

Don’t Be Afraid of Google

Google

I recently attended a networking meeting that had a business round table format and I kept hearing two reoccurring themes. The first that a few people wouldn’t let drop was how our local Chamber is worthless. The Chamber bashing was so bad I almost got up and left. I felt uncomfortable sitting there while a member from the Chamber graciously took the abuse. But, instead, I chose to speak up and share how wonderful the Chamber has been for me and my business. My Chamber launched my writing and public speaking income streams.

The second reoccurring theme was your Google presence. No matter how it was sliced and diced the message was clear, “If you don’t follow me and do what I say regarding your Google listing you and your business are doomed.” Well, their mission was accomplished. Attendees sat there with looks of fear on their faces. The room was silent. Business owners looked to their left and their right and were met with faces registering fear.

As a psychologist and business owner, I realized very quickly what was taking place. A few members were using this networking/business round table as their stage to get clients. They were tag teaming and invoking fear and singing praises to how great Google is as a search tool for new customers who want their products. This was followed by again more beating up on the Chamber and how no one goes to the Chamber any longer for local information. In psychology, we use the term “confederate” to describe a person or people that are specifically planted in a group to sway the group regardless if they are right or wrong. Research studies on conformity use confederates and an example can be viewed at this link
https://youtu.be/-qlJqR4GmKw?list=PLB72C822FB82E1A6D

That is exactly what was happening here. Three individuals or couples dominated the meeting by invoking fear, offering a testimonial, and then offering a solution to the group. Think back to large sales meetings or conferences you attended and I bet you can recall a similar incident but didn’t realize it for what it was – a sales strategy.

Now, I am not advocating not worrying about having your Google listing accurate and up to date. But, most of you who have been with me for any length of time have already claimed your business listing and know it is accurate. You also know that if you put all your eggs in one basket and worry only about Google analytics you would get nothing else accomplished. Google is often changing their algorithm. Many “experts” will tell you not to focus on the Google analytic. I agree. Outsource this task. Focus on what you can control.

As a small business owner, you probably do not have the budget to compete with larger companies who have one person devoted to monitoring changes Google is constantly making in how it ranks who get the #1 position. But, you can focus on your lead attraction strategy. That was the missing ingredient at this meeting. No one talked about lead attraction and the things you can do to drive traffic to your website, blog, or social media accounts.

Content marketing is a great tool to use to drive traffic to your website. Content marketing helps you rank higher in Google search results. But, more importantly, you don’t have to wait for your customers to Google you. You are getting your message in front of them so they don’t have to Google you. Content marketing has many forms. It can be the publication of an article or blog post. Media releases are a great way to get your business noticed as well as radio and other guest interviews. Social media also helps you appear in search results. Host a Blab, post a video on YouTube or Pinterest. Published posts on LinkedIn are also great ways to claim your spot in your niche on Google. Get creative. Use your key words. Google rewards good content. Content marketing should be included in your marketing strategy.

Don’t live in fear of Google. Stop worrying about things you can’t control. Take control of the things you can control. You can control your lead attraction strategy. If you don’t have one call me and I will help you design one.