Networking Groups: Pass The Business Cards

Have you played Pass The Business Cards game at Networking Groups? Or the PTBC as I call it.   Bless the group’s organizers and leaders hearts, they are trying to find some way to get people to connect and get to know each other, but the PTBC is not cutting it.If you have not played this game, here are a couple of versions of the game I want to tell you about.Generally the PTBC is used at the traditional Networking Group Luncheons where everyone sits around a large table, or in comes cases sit around a bunch of smaller tables.  Sometime before the One Minute Commercials (OMC) begin, each person takes a stack of their business cards (equaling to the number of people there). The first person passes their stack of cards to the next person.  Then that person takes one of first person’s cards (if they have not already gotten one) puts their stack on top of that and passes it on to the next person.  This keeps going on around the table or tables.  If there are a large number of people attending who know each other, or has gotten one of your cards before, by the time it gets to the halfway person he/she is dealing with a stack of cards that is very unmanageable.  Then when the stack gets back around to the person who started this game, they are dealing with a plate full of messed up cards and they are suppose to pick the cards they have not gotten, or they want, and take their extra cards back, then pass this mess onto the next person for them to do the same time. Now, what do you get out of this?  Do you need to learn how to jungle a plate of business cards while shoving a salad down your neck while visiting with the people on each side of you?  Because, that was all that happened in this PTBC game.  Another variation of this PTBC Game is where when you sign-in at the registration table at the meeting you drop a business card in the fish bowl.  Then sometime during the meeting the fish bowl is passed around and each person is to blind draw a card. Then the card you drew is who you are to schedule a one-on-one meeting.  In most cases the drawing is in conjunction to some sort of rewards program that is given to the person who does the most one-on-one over a period of time.  What is promoted is that each person will get two meetings out of the drawing; one with the person you draw their card and one from the person who drew your card.  The fallacy of the fish bowl meeting connection method assumes that each person will make contact and scheduled a meeting.  In reality all that has happened is time was wasted by passing a bowl around with cards in it.  What takes place in the Plate passing is that most groups only have a 10% new member attendance.   So passing 25 of your business cards to 23 people you passed them to last week and the two people who did not, is not very efficient.   The groups I have consulted have now adopted doing the card game differently.  They find out how many new members are attending, then at the meeting ask each senior member to fork over that many cards and the new members to fork over enough cards for everyone.  Then the leader provides the new person with a nice little packet of cards from everyone and then hands the new member’s cards to each senior member of the group.What takes place in the Bowl Passing method is that the first person who gets to draw is the only person who gets a true blind draw.  After that the cards left in the bowl comes down to whoever is left in the bowl.  In some cases the last person to draw a card has drawn their own card since it was the last one in the bowl.  The major problem with the Fish Bowl is that you have to make sure that everyone present has put a card in.  In one of the groups I am in there is one business person who refuses to put her card in the bowl but insist on taking a card out so she can make a contact.  She does not want someone to contact her.  Yes, there are people out there that feel that if they give out their card they are going to get spammed.What also happens in the bowl drawing is that some of the matches made from drawing cards results in two business people who have absolutely no interest in what each other do for a living or ability to help that person.  Like the Stock Broker who drew the city health inspector card or the sanitation worker who drew the CEO of a Software company.  Neither of these people are going to make the effort to contact each other.  SO, what took place at the bowl passing was again a waste of time and an excellent exercise in futility for a number of people.So, what is the solution?  If the OMC is dead and the PTBC game is lame, the organizers have to get innovative in providing timely purpose to their groups or people are not going to come back to their meetings.  Here is what I suggest they do.Each group knows who is attending.  There are a few that allow anyone to walk in off the street, which is a scary thought, but generally there is some sort of notice a person has to make to the group leader reporting they are going attend.At that point the organizer needs to let that new person know that before they can attend the meeting they will have to provide a profile of their business with a photo.  I suggest that the organizer create a form to place the information on so the information is in a format to be used for all profiles.  Then, before the meeting, the organizer take all of the profiles for all people who are attending, attach them into a pamphlet and have one placed at each seat before the meeting.  This kills the OMC and the PTBC, everyone can relax, enjoy being in the community and gravitate to people who look interesting or who they see in the pamphlet has a business they want to learn more about or have a lead for…. I call this passive networking… The Type A personalities hate this because it takes away the best tool they think they have, their over inflated ego’s.  It puts in writing information that is useful.  A unique concept in networking groups, where going to a networking group to learn what the group is about and who is in the group and you get something useful for a change and not a stack of business cards.Don’t play the games and waste people’s time by insulting them with mandatory OMC’s and PTBC.  Get on with what you are there for, making connections, building community and meeting people.  Anytime people gather together they are naturally going to find someway to get to know each other.  Providing them written information allows them to manage their time and review the pamphlet at their convenient to see who in the group, what they do and who would be able to help, and who would not.  It is kind of like having a program to look at while you are attending an art museum or an opera, or someplace where you get lost real easily.If a networking group wants to remain in existence they are either going to have to go online or provide the same information that an online group provides or both. Hope this information helps or at least it does not suck… 

Scot Duke


Innovative Business Golf Solutions,LLC. 

‘My Blog’ 

Author of: ‘How To Play Business Golf’, From The Boardroom To The Fairways…The best investment you can make for your business…   


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