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Business Card Alternatives for Business Owners

Handing otu business cards is still cool, don't get us wrong but think of your online profiles, social media, and any other potential touchpoint a a business card. As insurance agents build a business they do more glad handing and smiling than most salesmen. It means constant networking, even when off-duty. It used to be that everyone had their business cards tucked into a special case or into a compartment in their wallet, and they would hand them out at meet-up moments away from the office. Many business owners still keep their business cards handy, and this is still good practice, but there are other opportunities to pass your information to a business contact without handing over a business card - many of which involve technology - and when used properly these can help an insurance agent gain a competitive edge, a "wow" factor but also make giving and receiving information a whole lot easier.

Facebook as Your Business Card

Facebook is the most obvious option in that its social capability seems like an extremely detailed and ubiquitous business card. A Facebook page for yourself as the insurance agent is a great way to get your business and the services you provide across to the community but the way it's designed to connect people offers the perfect opportunity to highlight your services.

When you meet new clients or contacts within the insurance industry, ask them to visit your Facebook page and message you directly for a special incentive like a $5 Starbucks gift card or an informational "Managing Your Risk" whitepaper. This whets their appetite and collects their information by connecting you on Facebook. If possible, go one step further by using "Like-Gating" technique as explained below by Wikipedia. Look to leverage free solutions from companies like Thunderpenny and PageYourself to get started on this effort.

Fan-gating (also known as "Like-gating") is the practice of acquiring more fans for a Facebook page by requiring Facebook users to "like" the page in order to access specific content associated with the page. Double check with Facebook what is or is not appropriate for this type of promotion a there may be some restrictions in how you "incentivize" likes on your page.

Because of the unique nature of Facebook likes, you'll be able to connect directly with new contacts, see their interests, etc... far more than a business card could ever offer.

Additional Tip: To promote your Facebook page, include links within your email signature line, on your stationery, by tagging other business pages in your company with your Facebook link, and include the Facebook page link on your company website; you can even list the page's address on your physical business card.

Sending Digital Contact Cards

This is a true representation of a what a digital business card would be. Each email system has a different way to accomplish sending a digital card but essentially most all have an effective method for executing this delivery method.

As an example Microsoft Outlook or Hotmail have allows you to send your contact information using their vCard. It's an easy way to create and share a virtual business card by sending it as an attachment. Additionally Gmail offers another way to deliver these digital contact cards and allows you to export the each card in three different file formats designed for other systems: CSV for Google, CSV for Outlook, and VCF for Apple and other platforms.

Essentially your simply emailing your information to a contact that makes it easy for them to add directly to their phone or email business contacts. I would even suggest boht a physical and a digital contact card when possible. It can't hurt.

LinkedIn is for Agents

LinkedIn is another option that lends itself to insurance professionals looking to connect with market leaders and other industry contacts. LinkedIn started in 2003 and quickly grew to 20 million followers in just three years. It's now the biggest professional networking site available, connecting professionals and companies with discussions relevant to specific industries.

Use LinkedIn to connect with other agents or industry experts and participate in discussions about what’s working well in the industry, and they can discuss the various ways different companies have overcome specific problems. The unique features of LinkedIn allow you to define how you know each connection and see a great deal of their employment history and connections.

Use this connection to properly introduce your services and remind the contact how and why you are connecting with them. When sending an invitation, be sure to include a personalized message to offer that little something extra. A personalized note goes a long way since it makes your invitation to connect feel more genuine.

Tweeting Cannot be Overlooked Either

Twitter allows insurance agents to really connect with a community on a personal level. Though Twitter is not the ideal way to connect with people, it still offers an additional way to connect and send contacts Direct Messages to introduce or re-introduce yourself or your business.

Of course, with all these networking tips, it’s imperative that an insurance agent has ways to keep his contacts organized. It used to be that professionals had a Rolodex of business cards, but technology has eliminated the need for this desk-space hog. Now you can merely use a smartphone app to scan a business card, and the contact’s details will be loaded into the contact’s list on the smartphone, where it can be sorted into the appropriate category. For example, a prospective client met at a community's small business forum could go directly into the lead-generation file.

If you have the staff, ask someone to follow up with the leads gleaned from the people who “like” your Facebook page or those who follow you on Twitter. Create an excel document of the data, which you can import into your smartphone and use to create additional networking lists. By developing contact files, you’ll be able to conduct business more efficiently and keep in touch with your clients easily, never forgetting who they are. Plus, you’ll be able to quickly determine quality leads, organized for follow-up, and hopefully generate new customers.

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