“Do you have a card?”

We’ve all heard this dreadfully redundant line thrown around at a networking event. You have an enlightening conversation, exchange cards, and never hear from that person again.

There’s a scene from American Psycho where Patrick Bateman pulls out his new business card in an attempt to impress his colleagues. It works for a moment, until everyone else pulls out their own cards and Patrick becomes disturbed at the fact that theirs are more stylish than his. He starts sweating and shaking. The irony is that they all look pretty much the same, other than some subtle differences in tone of white and type of font.

This scene always cracks me up because it demonstrates an over-obsession with things like business cards, not for their utility or purpose, but for the status they signal. Normal people aren’t remotely as crazy as Patrick from American Psycho, but we exchange business cards with the same intent. We do it to signal that we care about knowing that person, not to use the card for its actual purpose: following up.

I recently threw away all of my business cards and started doing something completely different.

One of my biggest rules for sales is to get the other person’s contact info. Find out how to contact them again. Get in the driver’s seat of the relationship. Giving them your information is the surest way to never hear from them again. They aren’t bad people, it’s just not a priority for them to follow up with you. Meeting friends and acquaintances is no different.

If you value the relationship, or believe it could have some value in the future, get their contact info. This puts you in the drivers seat when it comes to follow up and offers you a unique opportunity to stand out and build some serious social capital.

So when someone pops the question, now I say:

“No, I don’t carry business cards, but I’ll take yours. I always follow up.”

It has been glorious ever since I started doing this. I accept that people won’t follow up. Instead, I assume all the responsibility. If I want to talk to someone again, I know exactly how to get in touch with them.

I mean it when I say I always follow up. Every time I get a business card, I send a nice email and throw the card away before I go to bed that night. That way we both have each other’s information tucked away in a clean, searchable email inbox, and neither of us have to worry about follow up or keeping track of a business card “just in case.”

I use the follow up as an opportunity to help me remember the person. I remember their name, picture their face, and remember something specific and unique about our conversation. This increases my chances of having a better connection with them sometime in the future and almost guarantees I don’t have an embarrassing “Wait, do I know you?” moment.

Instead, I’m setting myself up for an easy layup.

Here’s an example from today:

No pressure. No stress. Just genuine connection and good organization.