I’ve exhibited/spoken at two conferences in the past two weeks, and am now staring at the pile of business cards on my desk of folks with whom I should follow up. Yet, I’m reminiscing about going to a bar.
Finding a business partner is much like finding a life partner, and people are generally terrible at both.
From a young age, boys think that the “conquest” in dating is measured by the number of girl’s phone numbers you can get (e.g., at a bar). Similarly, more inexperienced networkers gauge the quality of their networking activity by the number of business cards they collect (e.g., at a conference). In both instances, these are dumb metrics.
Is your end-goal having a pile of business cards on your desk or girl’s numbers in your phone? I don’t think so. For most of us, at least, we eventually want to settle down with the “right one” and make something incredible with our business partners. A pile of cards or list of numbers is not helping you get there, if you don’t follow-up with the people who provided them.
At minimum, you can send them a quick note thanking them for talking to you, hoping that you might work together in the future, and wishing them success. At least, with this minimum amount of work, you’re standing out a *tiny* bit from the hundreds of people they might have met at the conference, and maybe they’ll think of you if something that would benefit from a partnership arises.