Business cards..well...they suck. I'm sorry but they really do. Whenever I go to a convention or a "professional mixer" networking event or even a bridal show, I come home with a stack of them. In order to make them truly useful they need to be entered into my phone and from there into my database of vendors, sorted into the appropriate category and of course then shared into my email address book. That's a TON of work for some information I may or may not ever need. Well the good (and bad as you'll see) news is that there are a ton of companies trying to find a way to make it easier. While it may seem like the days of the business card are numbered I don't think we'll ever truly get there but here are some great ways to get started using new millennium tools!
With the nearly universal use of smart phones in the DJ world you have many different choices for capturing and sharing that all important contact data on that small rectangle you've just been handed. To start you can simply scan them using your all in one printer and then with the use of programs like ABBY convert them into searchable documents. ABBY is character recognition software that will turn that scanned image into real text. This is a good start. By creating a business card image folder you can make yourself a nice searchable directory. Even if you don't create a separate business card folder using Google Desktop search can net you a pretty good return on a search performed by simply hitting CTRL 2x and typing in the search term. If you want to go one step further you can cut & paste the info into your preferred contact manager ( I use Gmail so Google contacts is my default which plays better than nice with my Android phone!) This is still pretty time consuming as you have to scan every card and then slice the data up.
Recently Hardware has been introduced that makes this job even easier. You can pick up any number of business card scanners or a unit like NeatReceipts and the included software will instantly (though not always 100% reliably) sort that scanned data into a nice database that you can shuffle to where it works for you. The big bonus to this dedicated software is that you can also use it to scan receipts for your business (something your accountant will appreciate at tax time. Dude it's time to retire that shoe box!) The downside...well they're kinda pricey and bulky and you have to sit down and manage the thing when you get back to the office. It's still a process with too many steps.
This idea has been taken into the smartphone realm and now you're phone can do pretty much the same thing depending on the app you rock on your phone. Using your phones camera and any number of either free (stay away from these they are frustrating in the that they limit the number of cards to something absurd or hold back the most useful features) or paid apps ($2.99 - $49.99) you can get the same result. Simply fire up the app, snap a pic of the card and follow the steps on that program. Pretty sweet! Instantly available and depending on the app relatively simple. But still a mulit-step process.
Enter the direct transfer. If you have a Blackberry or you ever used a PDA (remember them) you've been using direct information sharing for years. This process involves either clicking to transmit or "beaming" your contact info between to devices. The end result all of the contact info immediately available right in you mobile device. Already in the most likely place you'll want to use it. Nice. Nowadays the apps are many and varied that can accomplish this task. This is good right? Well, not really. If you aren't using the same app as the person you want to exchange info with then there's no way to trade data or if there is it is less than straight forward in most cases and turns the process into a long a drawn out thing. The beauty of the old skool business card exchange is that it's over in less than a second. Sure it can be a mess to make that info usable and truly useful but the actual exchange is immediate.
To connect with people, first register at Hashable online and get the app for your phone. Once you’re set up, you simply use the standard hashtags, or you can create your own, then add a person’s Twitter handle and you have made your connection. Some examples are as follows.
There’s also an Introduce feature, so you can play matchmaker on business and personal levels. Digital matchmaking in real time: who could have imagined?
To exchange business cards you simply use the Exchange Business Card feature. Once you’ve connected Hashable to LinkedIn your information is stored and ready to send electronically to your newest business contact or your latest love interest.
Hashable, now in Beta, available to the public without an invitation, recently released a new feature called, “The Inner Circle.” This allows users to see each other’s primary contact information and their interactions.
Before the official launch at SXSW, there will be several #HashUps. We, in the Chicagoland area are lucky enough to have Chicago pre-SXSW #Hashup next week on Tuesday, March 8th at Sushi Samba Rio!
While in its infancy, Hashable seems like a boon for the networking world. Give it a try and see if it enhances your business interaction and your social networking.
Be sure to check out the Hashable cheat sheet. Very handy for beginners.