I had a strange realization last week. I am now at a point in my career where I need to make “give business card” a default action for when I’m out and about, but not for the reason you may think. Under normal circumstances, I feel it’s relatively rare that I have to give out a business card. In most instances, my role has been too small and insignificant to warrant it, but also because I don’t really buy into the culture of swapping business cards with people in an effort to ‘network.’ I have been promoted to a new role, which entails more responsibility and autonomy when it comes to business meetings, but I’m still getting used to the idea of thinking of myself as an administrator or a manager.
Last week, I was in a coffee shop to grab a quick bite to eat before a meeting. The cashier saw that I was wearing a jacket with our school’s logo, and he excitedly asked if I was a student or employee. I let him know that I work at the college, and he asked in what area. When he heard I work in the school of engineering, he proudly told me that he received multiple acceptances into our mechanical engineering diploma programs. Since the coffee shop was dead, he then launched into a mini history of his background – he was born in east Africa, immigrated to the Middle East, did secondary school in the US, and now has his visa to study in Ontario. He told me some of his education, that he had top marks in design in high school, and even has a portfolio.
His energy and enthusiasm was infectious, and he left a strong impression on me. He sounds like a great kid, and I have no doubt that he will be successful in his studies. I told him where he could find me on campus, and he said he’d find me in the future.
I realized as I was driving away that I had missed the perfect opportunity to give him my card and promise to follow-up if he had any questions. I want to see him succeed, and if there was anything I could do to help, I’d gladly try.
Rather than seeing the business card as a way of helping myself, I should put more emphasis on seeing the business card as a way of helping others.