Last week I met with an advertising agency in St. Petersburg. I was there to present my company and pitch my services. Since this was our first formal meeting, everyone exchanged business cards. I gave each one of their folks one of my cards. Each one of them handed me a half-dozen of their cards. That’s right, 6 each. The front of each card was the same. The back of each card, for each employee, was different. The back of each card had a different photograph, taken by the card owner.
The Ties That Bind. . .
A blog about the importance of relationships in life, health and business.
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What’s Your Story?
Each photograph was a little glimpse into their private life. One was of the owner’s two dogs, another was a photograph of a spouse walking down a city street. One was taken from the deck of a sailboat with the view from underneath the mainsail. Another was a tropical cocktail being enjoyed in front of a water view. After seeing the backs of all these cards, I had to ask for the story behind each one. Over the next 10 minutes, I learned about family pets, relived honeymoon memories, and was transported to far away places. Many people think they have a unique experience in this world, that somehow no one else knows or understands their journey through life. The photographs on these cards reminded me that we all share similar experiences. We find joy, sorrow, and beauty in the same things and is a tie that binds humanity together.
An Investment in Relationships
Six cards for every employee might seem like an extravagance. But it’s actually an investment. It is an investment in relationships. Advertising agencies, like all companies, rely on sales and new business to fuel it’s existence and growth. For decades I worked in sales organizations that focused on new business development. I attended numerous training sessions on how to break the ice with prospects and start a relationship that would result in a sale. One tactic was to look around a prospect’s office for personal photographs. Banners and mementos from an alma mater were gold. Common bonds over a local sports team start relationships too. Unfortunately, fewer people have offices these days and how do you do that at a Starbucks? Business cards are portable and serve the purpose of breaking the ice. Sharing experiences start great relationships. The investment in these cards is brilliant.
New business calls can be intimidating. Pitching business to strangers requires ambition, belief, and courage. I may never get any writing or photography assignments from this advertising agency. Time will tell. But I walked away from this meeting feeling like a made new friends. The next time I see their sign or hear their company name mentioned in conversation, my thought will be, “I know them, they are really cool people.” And then recommend them to businesses I know. When connections are made on both a professional and personal level relationships can blossom. Business will come. All from photographs on the back of business cards.