When I wrote this post five years ago, I was a little bold in declaring that I’d solved a problem once and for all. But you know what? It’s true. I now enter the info of anyone I want to keep track into my Contacts database and toss the card. I ended up getting rid of the little file box and the very few cards that I keep I put in a little container on a shelf in my office supply closet. Simple and sustainable!
Keeping track of business cards is a challenge for me, and, I’ve observed, for many of my clients. I’ve been accumulating them for awhile in a business-card file box (sorted into rough categories) and then when I outgrew the box, the whole bunch went into in a larger bin that sat on a shelf in my office closet.
I blogged about this in May of last year and even went so far as to create an action plan to deal with the cards. But I never followed through on it.
A winter storm blew through St. Louis on Sunday, putting on hold my plans for going out. So I decided it was time to deal with those darn business cards.
Here’s how they looked when I moved them to my desk to deal with them. My plan was to organize them into a larger See Jane Work business-card file box I’d purchased some time back.
There was no way all these cards would fit in this box.
Before getting started, I thought about why I hang on to business cards. I realized that it’s because I want to be a great resource for my clients. And I’m afraid that I won’t remember the names on the cards I’d collected if I put them in my phone. So my thought was that I would organize the cards into categories for easy access if I have a client who needs a name.
That seemed reasonable until I started thinking about the fact that I like to be able to give my clients the resource immediately, not wait until I get home (and risk forgetting to do it). I’m not going to carry a business-card file box around with me (nor would I if I had a business card book or any other more portable way to carry around business cards.). What I do carry around with me to all client appointments is my phone.
So I decided to use my phone like I would use the file box: I’d enter the contact info by category. But first, I would narrow the cards down to as few as possible, to make the job easier.
I went through the accumulated business cards, being very selective about what I kept. I created categories for the ones I wanted to keep and filed them in the smaller business-card file box.
I threw away a big pile of cards.
My discard pile was huge!
The next step was to go through the keepers and make sure the ones I really want to refer to clients are in the contacts list on my computer and phone, filed into groups for easy access. I created groups that match the categories in my physical business-card file.
Surprisingly, it didn’t take that long to enter the names and contact info. Less than an hour. I tried to see if I could use my Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M scanner to take of that task for me, but the business-processing card software that came with the scanner was out of date and I didn’t want to go down the rabbit hole of updating things. So I just entered the names that weren’t already in my computer.
After I was finished with that task, I had a big decision to make: should I keep the physical cards or toss them all? Part of me wanted to keep them, since I had a place to store them. But reason prevailed and I decided to let go of all those resource cards. I kept a few of the cards related to me personally, but tossed a giant pile of cards. Knowing that they’re in my database, backed up regularly, gave me the courage to do that.
And I’m here to tell you it felt good!!
Now, when I pick up a business card, I’ll decide then and there whether to put it in my database. And then I’ll take the 60 seconds or so necessary to add it. And I’ll toss it.
I did keep a few categories of cards. I kept those of some friends, just because they make me feel good when I look at them. I kept a category of cards related to professionals in my home town, who might be of help if problems come up with my aging family. And I kept a category of genealogy-related cards (mostly picked up at the RootsTech conference I attended last month.
This is all the the cards that were left when I finished:
Now my box has more index cards than business cards.
Hooray! It’s a thrill to come up with a solution that works for me for a problem I’ve been grappling with for awhile.