Join My Proposal Writing Crash Course (It’s Free!)

Take your first step and join thousands of professionals who improved their proposal writing with my free video course. Your privacy and email address are safe with us!



What To Do With Business Cards You Collect

Open up a drawer and throw them in. Everybody knows that’s not what you should be doing with business cards you receive. Yet, I’ve done it. And I’m not alone.

The more events you go to, the more cards you’ll collect. And having to deal with all those business cards can seem like an albatross around your neck.

You know there is something you should be doing with those cards. But at the same time, you’ve got a million deadlines breathing down your neck. And everybody at the office has made it their life’s work to distract you from the things you really want to get done.

So, those cards become just one more thing you’ve got to deal with “eventually.”

But what if you had a headache-free process for dealing with all those business cards? And what if it only took five minutes of your precious, constantly running thin, time?

Well, that’s why you’re reading this, so let’s get to it.

What To Do With Business Cards You Receive

In a moment, I’m going to regale you with my simple 5-Minute Business Card Solution. Not only that, I’m going to give you word-for-word followup email templates you can use.

But before I get into that, let me lay waste to some time-honored business etiquette.

You Have Permission To Throw My Business Card Out

Only a total jerk would throw out someone’s business card. Give yourself permission to be that jerk.

Listen, we’ve been taught that every contact you make is valuable. And that’s true, the first guy who ever gave me a business card also got me my job and helped me land a wife.

And that fateful card he gave me…it’s in the trash.

Each year, 15% of the people you meet will switch jobs. And that problem compounds. Let’s say you enter 500 contacts into a CRM or address book. After just three years, nearly half of those entries could have wrong contact info.

The accuracy of your contact database is constantly degrading. The more “garbage” you put in, the more garbage you’ll get out.

You don’t have to keep information on everyone you meet. You don’t have to enter everyone into your system, Rolodex, or whatever you use.

In fact, many of those systems were built assuming you’d only enter leads in them.

If I give you my card at an event, you have permission to throw it out! Just wait until I’ve turned around. Throw it in a trash can. Then light the trash can on fire for good measure. 🙂

Always Label People

Every person you meet is a unique butterfly. But we don’t have time for that so we’ll slap a label on them, categorize their existence, and throw them in the appropriate bucket.

Every system imaginable has a way to categorize or label contacts. It could mean separate Rolodexes, multiple binders, labels in Outlook, or categories in your CRM.

Regardless, you’ll put everybody you meet in a specific category. Here are the ones I use:

  • Potential Client/Lead
  • Current Client
  • Past Client
  • Potential Teaming Partner
  • Teaming Partner
  • Influencer
  • Vendor
  • Friend
  • Contact

Trust me, you’ll see the value in categorizing contacts once you have met a couple hundred people.

The 5-Minute Business Card Solution

But let’s say you get a business card you feel you should keep. What should you do with it?

Just follow these four simple steps.

Step One: Write On The Back Of Each Card

Whenever you’re at an event, you want to have a pen on you. Keep one handy in your purse or wallet. I’ve been using a special wallet for many years because it has a collapsible pen in it.

When someone gives you a card, right then and there, just ask if it’s Ok to write on the back of it. And you can jot down notes then and there. They won’t be annoyed, they’ll be impressed.

If you’re just starting the conversation, wait until you walk away to jot down your notes.

And if you forgot your pen or their company is stupid enough to have a black background on their card, just write down notes in an email to yourself on your phone.

I write down these things on the back of each card:

  • Category
  • Interests they might have mentioned to me (like fishing or music or even an industry association they’re involved in)
  • A note regarding where you met them and who they are.
  • Next action I need to take (See this article about ending conversations

It is critical that you do this at the event. As soon as you walk out that door, your mind will fill up with other thoughts. You’ll forget every conversation you had or why you even attended the event in the first place.

Step Two: Have Someone Else Put Them In A Trusted System

Now you’ve got a pocket full of business cards with notes on the back. You’ve just got to enter all this data into a system. Right? Wrong!

You’ve got to find someone or something to do it for you. That may mean begging an admin, firing up a card scanning app, or forcing your kids into child labor.

Find someone or something you can trust to enter the data into a system (even if that system is binders).

Yes, they’ll make data entry mistakes at first. Just spot check their work and make adjustments until you are comfortable that they won’t screw up.

Step Three: Send Customized Followups To The Top Two Or Three

If you’ve gone to the right event, there are likely to be two or three people you know you absolutely have to follow up with.

The best example of this would be a potential client that has agreed to meet with you. Check out my Guide to Getting Meetings with Busy People for word-for-word scripts on how to arrange those meetings.

Nobody likes a long follow up email. So, keep it fairly short and to the point.

Step Four: Send Boilerplate Followups To Everyone Else

After you sent custom followups with the two or three critically important people you’ve met, everyone else falls into two buckets:

  • People you want to continue a relationship with
  • Everyone else

For the ultra-lazy like me, you can speed up this process by using software like TextExpander or Phrase Express.

Here’s the exact script I use when sending out boilerplate followups:

Subject: Great talking to you at [EVENT NAME]

Hi [FIRST NAME],

It was great seeing you at the [EVENT NAME]. I enjoyed our conversation about [TOPIC].

As mentioned, [NEXT ACTION].

P.S. I have attached my vcard, which contains my contact information. You should be able to click on it and add me to your contacts.

Note that while that script has some variables, you’ve recorded each one on the back of that person’s business card.

I’ve been using the 5-Minute Business Card Solution for years. It allows me to do what 95% of people don’t…follow up with people after I meet them at an event.

Now It’s Your Turn

Do you have any tricks or processes you use when dealing with the business cards you collect?

Share with us in the comments.

Drip Review

This will be more than a “Drip Review.” I’m going to touch on how my overall email strategy has changed and why Drip’s features allow me to bring that to life.

Email marketing and our relationship with email have transformed in recent years.

That evolution has forced me to rethink how I send emails to the thousands of friends in the Help Everybody Army.

Today, I want to share with you why I decided to switch email providers after almost ten years (from MailChimp to Drip).

After reading through this, you might consider how your email strategy might evolve as well.

Every Entry On Your Email List Is A Person

If there is one thing I cherish, it’s my subscribers. I lovingly refer to them as the “Help Everybody Army.”

A fool who didn’t understand how I feel about these people might refer to them as my “email list.”

I care deeply about every single person on that list. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many in person. It’s my mission to enhance and improve their work life.

That’s always going to be the constant in my email strategy. See each email as a person and treat them accordingly.

But Our Relationship With Email Is Changing

Spam used to be an annoyance we didn’t think much about. Now every email we receive is a potential threat.

Justifiably, more and more of us are using spam filters. And those spam filters are getting stronger. Not to mention our IT teams are constantly combating email.

In addition, I feel a bit exhausted by email. You see, I’ve subscribed to email lists too. Today, I don’t read those emails like I would have just five years ago.

You and your clients are probably experiencing the same thing.

Here’s how my email strategy has changed to address this new reality.

The “Thank You” Rule

I used to write a blog post and send it through email every week. My philosophy was: send one email per week.

As someone pointed out just yesterday, that’s changed. My new rule is I don’t send an email unless I’m certain someone will be compelled to reach out and thank me.

And when people send those thank you notes, it tests and helps inform my decisions on what to send.

I call it the “Thank You Rule.” It’s a high bar, but an important one.

I’ve set a quality threshold with a real-world feedback loop.

The Thank You Rule In Drip

In Drip, the “Thank You Rule” takes on a whole new life. When people subscribe to my list, they get put in what’s called an email workflow (sometimes referred to as an autoresponder or funnel). My system has worked like this for years.

It starts with my Proposal Writing Crash Course and then a few “Best Of” emails. But all the while, new subscribers would still get my latest posts.

In Drip, that workflow is much longer. I now have a year’s worth of emails set up in there. And that number will grow.

Brand new subscribers will no longer receive my latest blog posts. Until they are through the initial workflow, they will only receive emails I’ve actually been thanked for.

A More Personal And Personalized Email Experience

With Drip, I can create a much more personalized experience.

Here’s one example.

Historically, I’ve let people sign up with just their email address.

Sure, I’d like to know the name of every single subscriber. And I’d like to address everybody by their name.

Here’s the problem. I’ve found if you ask people for their first name, inevitably someone will submit their full name in that field. Or they will write “beth” instead of “Beth.”

So, then my email reads:

“ Hi beth Johnson,”

That’s not very personal.

In Drip, I can set up rules that fix that issue. Here’s an example below:

Who Are My Students?

Yes, I have a lists of every Proposal Management Mastery student, every Win Writing student, everybody who ordered a Brutally Honest Proposal Critique, everybody who purchased the deluxe edition of Proposal Development Secrets , and everybody who brought me out to present my proposal workshop to their firm or organization.

But frankly, I’ve had to manually reconcile those lists to determine that Will C is in Proposal Management Mastery and Win Writing and has ordered a Brutally Honest Proposal Critique.

That’s manageable with 20 students. But with hundreds of students (or clients), that kind of manual reconciliation is tough to do.

Drip has a variety of sophisticated integrations that automatically track which of my students bought what, when, and for how much. It will also automatically calculate each student’s lifetime value (which I discussed in my post on marketing budgets).

I was also able to import old information into Drip in a way that will give me a complete record of all my students (new and old).

So, now when Katy switches firms (or emails) all that history will stay with my record of her.

That’s pretty powerful.

Better Automation

Email automation has become much more powerful over the last few years.

I’m going to stay with the Katy example because I was just messaging with her.

Back in September 2015, when Katy joined Proposal Management Mastery, she raised a very good question.

She joined as soon as it opened up, why was she still getting emails promoting the course?

With MailChimp, there was no way around that. But in Drip, I can set a “goal,” like joining Proposal Management Mastery that will allow her to skip past those emails.

Essentially, once a subscriber performs an action (like joining Proposal Management Mastery), they get pulled up to where I set the goal.

Email Subscriber’s Journey

Setting up a workflow automation in Mailchimp was painful. And in recent years, I’ve felt they’ve made it harder to map out the subscriber’s journey.

In Drip, I can see how each subscriber will proceed through my workflow. I don’t have to imagine it in my mind or draw it on paper, it’s right there on the screen.

In fact, my subscribers’ path in Drip was heavily influenced by this tutorial posted on YouTube. Being able to actually see the workflow someone else set up was so helpful.

When someone subscribes to your list, what’s their journey? Have you thought about that?

What To Take From All Of This

Let me list a few questions you should ask when reevaluating your email marketing strategy.

  • How has your audience’s relationship with email changed?
  • Do you have a quality threshold?
  • How might you use new technologies to improve your audience’s experience?
  • When someone joins your list, what’s their journey look like?

Now It’s Your Turn

Have your email marketing strategy or the tools you use changed in the last few years? If so, how?

Share with us by submitting a comment.

Best Value: Did You Really Lose On Price?

I hear it all the time. I’m sure you do as well. “Oh, we lost that one on price.” Let me explain why that’s not always true. And I’ll provide you a simple rule of thumb to determine when you’ve lost due to your best value price and when you could have done more to […]

Continue reading...

The Ultimate Guide To Writing Skimmable Proposals

The Ultimate Guide To Writing Skimmable Proposals

It can be overwhelming. When you look at some RFPs, you can’t believe how much information they ask for. Why do they need all this information? But it’s the “golden rule.” They have the gold, so they make the rules. And we’re just playing the game by the rules they’ve laid out. So, you spend […]

Continue reading...

Marketing Budgets: 5 Easy Building Blocks Nobody Talks About

Marketing_Budgets_5_Easy_Building_Blocks_Nobody_Talks_About

One of the most challenging things you can be tasked to do is define a firm’s marketing budget. What’s the right marketing budget for a small architecture firm in Wayne, PA? What’s the right marketing budget for the largest construction firm in Michigan? Try as you might to find a legitimate rule of thumb (5-13% […]

Continue reading...

AEC Marketing: 10 Steps to Success

AEC Marketing 10 Steps to Success

Many years ago, in response to an article I wrote in Marketer magazine, I was emailed by someone who was starting out as an AEC Marketer for an electrical designer/contractor in the Midwest. (NOTE: we refer to marketers in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry as “AEC marketers”). He asked me how you gain the […]

Continue reading...

What Proposal Game Are You Playing?

what proposal game are you playing

When it comes to proposals, nobody talks about this. What game are you playing? We could live our life believing that every procurement is the same. Every time we submit a proposal, we are playing our hand in the same game. But that’s delusional. Every procurement is different. That means every time you submit a […]

Continue reading...

Why Opportunities Pass You By (And What To Do)

Why Opportunities Pass You By

“If only I had,” is the most devastating phrase in the English language. We all carry some degree of regret in our hearts. One of the most common traits I see in successful people is that they recognize and capitalize on opportunities. More importantly, they don’t shy away from opportunities that challenge their thinking or […]

Continue reading...

How To Track Relationships When You Don’t Have A CRM

In my last post, I described how to choose the best CRM for your firm. But what if a CRM just isn’t in the cards for you or your firm at the moment? Don’t fret. There’s actually a lot you can do without a CRM. But before we get into that, I want to share with […]

Continue reading...

What’s The Most Appropriate CRM For Your Firm?

Let’s talk about a common question I get, “What’s the right CRM for my firm?” Many, many, firms don’t have a CRM. If you are one of those or you feel your CRM isn’t the best fit…don’t fret. There are many options out there. And I have some advice for those looking to find the […]

Continue reading...