Networking demands human connections and lasting impressions. Only then does it become a firm foundation upon which to build a new relationship. Emotional engagement with strangers requires effort — the more strangers, the more effort. When meeting only one person for the first time, directing your attention to getting their particulars is straightforward. Afterward, you can scribble notes on the back of their business card confident in the clarity of recollection.
But what about meeting lots of people, when recollection becomes cloudy?
Conferences and trade shows provide many networking opportunities in a short span of time. It is easy to be overwhelmed by all the new people you meet. Every minute you spend trying to remember who you met, what you saw, where you were, and when you were there is a minute’s networking you lose. There is a tension between being exposed to new things and fresh faces, on the one hand, and remembering all those new things and fresh faces after the event, on the other.
By automating some of that remembering, Evernote frees you to focus on making human connections and leaving lasting impressions.
Let’s concentrate on automating two chores: putting faces to names, and dealing with business cards.
Putting Faces to Names
I used to sit at my desk, surveying a recently accumulated deck of people’s business cards, and wondering which person belonged to which card. I’m bad at remembering names, but good at faces. So what can Evernote do to help?
- Take a photograph of the person — but do it from within Evernote. Create a new note by selecting the “photo” option. Just smile and say, “Do you mind if I take your photograph? I’m bad at putting faces to names.” Nobody has ever refused me. And when they say yes, look to see if they have a convention badge. Take a photograph of their face and the badge.
- Then, later, having their business card, you can search through Evernote for their name and find that photo of their face — because Evernote can recognize text in images.
- If there isn’t a convention badge, look for a company name on their shirt. No luck? Then look to see if the person is standing in front of something with their business’s name — a trade show display, or a sign at their workplace. If there’s text in the image, there is a good chance that it can be read, searched and found in Evernote.
Dealing with Business Cards
Back at your desk, pull out your newly acquired business cards and, one by one, create new notes by selecting the “photo” option and taking a picture of each card. This automates four practical tasks.
- Extracting their contact information. Evernote automatically extracts contact information from each business card image: name, title, company, email address, telephone number and URL. It displays those particulars beside the card image. Then it offers to transfer that information to your list of contacts. No retyping. The contact details are where you need them most — on your smartphone.
- Sending them your contact information. Evernote offers to email your own contact information to the people you just met, so they don’t have to retype your contact information into their list of contacts. Your contact details are where you need them most — on their smartphone.
- LinkedIn connection. Evernote sends an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. You both must be on LinkedIn, but if you are, Evernote will automatically download missing contact information from their profile, including their photo. So next time you meet, you will recognize the person’s face.
- Organizing and filing. Evernote automatically files the business card into a notebook, or applies a tag according to your predefined preference. I use a dedicated notebook for all my scanned business cards, so I can glance at them like a physical business card wallet.
Seeing This in Action
Almost eight years ago, Evernote CEO Phil Libin showed off text-in-image searching in this two-minute video. It remains an impressive demonstration of why, if you recall faces but not names, you should photograph people you meet.
Configuring Evernote on your iOS device to properly deal with business cards is best seen, heard and copied. I made this eight-minute video for you to watch, hear and copy. Play it in full screen for best effect.