Why No-one is Handing Out Your Business Card


I like my paper business cards. I’ll bet you like yours, too.

But I really don’t expect much (or any) direct pass-along business from it. Why?

Because it’s not about handing out paper. It’s about handing over memory-words.

Referrals happen when I occupy one clear and singular place in your mind. When you have one important message about me embedded in your memory, joined to an awareness of the kinds of people who need me.

You don’t want me carrying your business card (and a hundred others) around. You want me to know your sweet spot. And the words that explain it. The fewer and more vivid, the better.

Look – the truth is, we get one pixel of space in other people’s heads. People have the bandwidth to hang something about you on one memory hook. And if it’s not the distilled essence of what you offer, you won’t get targeted referrals.

You need to give people a succinct and memorable verbal business card, that they can pass on to others.

Recently, I saw this overview on a professional’s LinkedIn profile (believe me, this is quite typical):


• Strategic Marketing & Tactical Deployment
• Creative Direction & Advertising
• Branding & Brand Governance
• Public & Media Relations
• Product Launches
• Relationship Marketing
• Multi-channel Marketing
• Project Management & Operations
• Market Research & Analysis
• Client Management
• Sales & Marketing Automation
• Team Leadership & Training
• Growth Forecasting
• Productivity Analysis

Ummm….we’re going make a referral WHEN? To WHOM? For WHAT? Give us your verbal business card – not a business verbiage cloud. <–(tweet this)

I was on the phone recently with a well-known consultant and explained what I thought her primary offering was. Except it wasn’t – I had old information, still hanging on my memory hook. We had to work on a new phrase to distill her business essence into a more accurate phrase.

Imagery helps in this process. What is more memorable: “We catapult your on-line lead generation to new heights!” (accompanied with appropriate picture), or “Increase your on-line business development results with our scalable two-way communications platform.” No contest, right?

Robin Dickson put it nicely in a post a few years back about Sharewords. That’s a great way to put it – have a clear and concise package of words-that-can-easily-be-shared-by-others.

Twitter, with its compressed character limit, is a great tool for forcing us to create a verbal business card (esp. in your bio). I like the one-sentence summary on Brian Moran‘s Twitter page: Helping entrepreneurs & marketers navigate the small-to-midsize business marketplace. Or this wonderful phrase, from news videographer Jim Longnew media soul trapped in an old media body.

Let’s get practical. I work with businesses, consultants, and people in career transition to figure out their professional DNA and distill their message. So here’s my verbal business card::

“I help you Discover Your Fit in the marketplace. We all need Clarity Therapy, because You Can’t Read The Label Of The Jar You’re In.”

"You can't read the label of the jar you're in"

(artwork by Hugh Macleod, aka gapingvoid)

What about your message? Do you have a verbal business card you’d like to share with others? Feel free to tell us about yourself in the comments – and be as vivid and concise as you can be!

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  1. jr schmitt (@cloudspark) says

    steve – you’re leading by example here. i know just how to refer people to you because i clearly know what you do and how it benefits people. i didn’t get that from your card (not sure i even have any of those!) i got it because you spoke clearly and gave me phrases easy to remember and associate with you.

    now back to my whiteboard to hone my cloud into a card. best, jr

  2. Nobody is going to give you a call just because they found your business card. They will call you based on the other information that they know about you, either by speaking with you or speaking with someone that is referring you. You can’t just leave your business card on a table at a networking event, you need to actually network.


  1. […] your “sweet spot” role or offering; telling an effective story; having an effective verbal business card to hand […]

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