There’s a disturbing networking trend going on. If you hand out your business card, the recipient sometimes thinks that’s permission to automatically sign you up for their bulk sales and marketing email messages.
I understand many people have something to sell, whether a product or service, and they’re therefore looking to increase their pool of prospects. Fair enough. But this is the wrong way to go about it because those unrequested emails are spam. Yep. Spam.
Sharing business cards is the start of building a business relationship. Not the start of the selling process. People do business with people they know, like and trust. They do not do business with people clearly are more interested in what they can get than what they can give.
Every client I work with struggles with the masses of email they have to wade through. And nearly every one of them has said they resent being included in bulk email they didn’t request. This this post: To help the many who are getting buried by sales pitches or unsolicited emails offering free stuff or even free (but unwanted) information.
So I have two messages: One to the “victims” and one to the “perpetrators.”
To the victim: If the emails are unwelcome, unsubscribe and don’t for a second feel bad about it, even if you’ve met the person. You didn’t ask for it and the sender needs to learn about building relationships. If the sender is using regular email for bulk messages rather than a contact management program, it’s okay to mark it as junk or spam to block further communication. Again, no need to feel bad for one second for doing so.
To the perpetrator: If you send bulk emails, use a contact management system and only send your marketing and sales information to people who have opted in. Blanket the earth with your sales message via Twitter or other social media outlets if you must (though you may find your connections and followers dwindling, if all you do on those is sell). Feel free to send personal, individual emails to people from whom you’ve collected a business card. That’s one good way to start building a relationship. And once you’ve let this new person get to know you and they’ve seen how respectful you are of their time and how much you’re interested in their specific needs, they will probably be happy to do business with you when they need what you offer.