Turning Business Cards Into Friends

No I’m not talking about turning those stacks of business cards into real life “let’s go to the park and play catch” friends. That’s silly. Who has time for more friends anyway when we have things like Twitter?

No I’m talking about taking all those business cards you collect at conferences and mixers and turning them into new friends and followers across social media sites.

Let’s face it, you can’t possibly do business with everyone you meet at these events. You can however connect online and share those ever important status updates with these folks. Who knows, maybe down the line you can turn those tweets about what you had for lunch into a big business deal.

Here’s how it’s done in a few simple steps.

  1. Dealing with dead tree data: The first problem of course is that business cards are not friendable. In fact they are very analog. You can’t put them in your computer or easily import them into, well, anything. Until now that is thanks to CloudContacts. They’ll take your stacks of cards and turn them into something even prettier, structured data you can use and in our case, abuse.
  2. Exporting: Once CloudContacts receives your order they process the batch and notify you via email when the job is done. From there you can login to their website and grab your data in several different formats. They offer specific formats for sites like Facebook and LinkedIn and more general purpose .CSV formats. Worst case you can also dump this data directly into Gmail which is compatible with our next step on just about every social media website.Protip: Setup a new Gmail address to use for these types of data import/export jobs, that way your main account doesn’t get unnecessarily bloated
  3. Importing: Finally it’s time to match up those once lifeless squares of paper with their online counterparts. Just about any social service will give you the option to “Invite Your Friends!”. Locate this section and simply point it to your data file or loaded Gmail address book and fire away! The invite application searches it’s own records for a match and starts the connection process.

Here’s a look behind the scenes at CloudContacts. Notice all the export options along the left side.

(click to enlarge)

Sean Percival

Sean Percival is an American author, investor and entrepreneur.