Business Card Exchange

by John Goldberg and Verna Sulpizio

Activity Summary

Participants exchange and thoroughly read each other’s business cards. They then ask questions about and discuss each other’s names, titles, organizations, addresses, and other information on the cards.

Goals

  • To give participants an opportunity to get to know and remember each other more than the usual quick introductions and exchange of business cards.
  • To think about how to make stronger than usual connections with others when meeting them for the first time.
  • To learn how to use business cards as mental hooks to strengthen memorization techniques and better remember names. 

Group Size

8 to 11

Time Required

1.5 to 2 hours, depending on the number of participants

Materials

  • Each participant should bring as many copies of his or her business card as there are participants.
  • A stopwatch or timer.

Physical Setting

A room large enough for the participants to sit or stand in pairs and hear each other well.

Process

1.  Tell the participants that this session will be a somewhat different form of speed networking than what they may be used to. Ask participants what their experience has been with speed or other networking sessions in the past. (5 minutes)

2.  Ask the participants what they would like to have learned about people they met at networking events but didn’t learn. Then ask them what kinds of questions they could ask others to learn information about the other person in a short period of time.

You can mention the following questions if the participants don’t mention them:

  • What type of work does your organization do?
  • Who is your target market?
  • What do you like most about your job?
  • In what part of town is your office located?
  • How long have you been with your organization?

(5 minutes)

3.  Tell the participants that they will be talking in pairs with as many others in the room as there is time to do so. Tell them that, in these conversations, they are to begin by exchanging business cards and reading them thoroughly. After both members have read each other’s cards they will have a conversation about the information on the cards including names, titles, organizations, addresses and other information. Their goal is to learn as much about the person as possible in 5 minutes. Each duo will have a total of ten minutes to talk before changing partners. 

4. Ask the participants to use the business cards to help remember names. Take a mental picture of business card logos, font, and style of lettering and use it to tie the card to the person they are talking to. Is there something unique about the person’s name, location, or logo? Ask the person about it to cement the information into your brain. Listen intently and don’t worry about the next question you might ask him or her.

5.  Ask the participants to form an inner and outer circle, with pairs facing each other. Ask them to start their first round of conversation. Tell the participants when each 5 and 10-minute period has ended. Ask the pairs to change speakers at the end of each 5-minute period. At the end of each 10-minute period ask participants in the outer circle to move clockwise to the next person in the inner circle. Ask the participants to repeat this process until they have spoken with everyone in the other circle. You might want to use a bell or something similar to announce the 5 and 10-minute periods. (30-45 minutes)

6.  Ask the participants in the outer circle to meet at one end of the room and those in the inner circle to meet at the other end. Ask participants to pair off and introduce themselves to each other as they did when they were in the circles and continue the process every 10 minutes until they have spoken with everyone in the room. (30-45 minutes)

7.  When all pairs have finished talking reconvene the whole group and ask the following questions:

  • How did you feel about the conversations you had?
  • How was this different from other networking experiences you have had?
  • Were you able to remember names better by seeing business cards at the beginning of the conversation, instead of the end?
  • Did any business cards leave a memorable impression with you?  Why?
  • Is there anything you would consider doing differently if you had the ability to redesign your card?
  • What are some of the most important things you learned to day?
  • How can you use what you learned today?

(15 minutes)

Variation

If participants do not have enough business cards for all the participants they can show one copy of card to each person. If participants don’t have any copies of their business card they can write the usual card information on a piece of paper.

Larger groups can be accommodated but either the session will take longer than two hours or the participants will not be able to meet everyone in the room.

About the Authors

John Goldberg provides training in leadership, communication, teamwork, and career and personal development. He served for seven years as Manager, Organization Development for a Fortune 500 company. John teaches at the University of California, Davis Graduate School of Management. He is active in the California Network of Learning Professionals. John lives in Sacramento with his wife and two children.

Contact: John Goldberg, MBA, 442 T Street, Sacramento, CA 95818-2122. Telephone: (916) 444-3353. Email: johngoldberg@hotmail.com. Website: JohnGoldberg.com.

Verna Sulpizio chairs the Networking & Events Committee for Metro EDGE, the Sacramento region’s largest young professional’s organization. She organized the largest young professional networking event in EDGE’s history, Young Leaders Connect, bringing 600+ young professionals together. Verna is a Project Manager for Civitas Advisors, the industry leader in forming, modifying, and renewing improvement districts. She is a graduate of the University of California, Davis with a degree in Community and Regional Development.

Contact: Verna Sulpizio. Email: verna@gmail.com.