Motorsport is still using business cards.

It’s an uncomfortable feeling being asked for your business card when you don’t have one. Like stalling at the start line.

The good news is, motorsport is a very level playing field; it’s full of tradition but cutting edge in ways too. Professionalism, enthusiasm, talent and community spirit are highly valued in this sport. Introducing yourself well gets your foot through many doors. 

Yes, I hear you

“I’ve got Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, I don’t really need a business card.”  

Not everyone uses social media in the same way. A hell of a lot of people primarily value face-to-face meetings and a card thrust into hand.

“I’ve got 200 at home that never got used, waste of time!”

Hopefully, everyone at home already knows you and likes you? Store them where you’ll need them, have them to hand in your car, rucksack and wallet.

“It’s so awkward; I don’t know how to offer it?”

With some confidence and a plan, you’ll feel much more comfortable with the process. It’s new to lots of us, you’re not alone.

“I’ve received loads, never called anyone from them!”

Don’t dwell on it, but these are lost connections! It’s entirely up to you how useful a business card can be once received. Your business card meanwhile, remains your introduction long after you’ve handed it over, so you may as well make it memorable.

Here’s our take on using them successfully.

Know when to use it

Trade shows, race days, networking events and award galas should see you fully loaded with cards to pass on to people you found interesting. One of the disappointments many people talk of is their past experiences with handing out cards. So many went out but nothing came back in terms of contacts made and connections developed. Don’t waste cards. Ask yourself one quick question when taking or handing out a card:

Where could this go?

If the conversation is ticking any of your boxes, imagine what a stronger friendship or business relationship could offer you both long term. If there is no mutual interest, move on.

The only caveat here is if someone asks for your card first — not everyone is ‘readable’ maybe they think you’re the shit?! Always swap at this point and follow up with your introduction email.

Give a Reason Why

This marries up nicely with tip one. Verbally give a reason for handing over your card (or swapping cards).

The physical action will otherwise get lost on its own, especially if you’re at an event when business cards are being handed out freely. Conversations might continue over it, or the surroundings provide a distraction. The swap loses meaning and won’t be remembered unless you can anchor it to a reason or incentive. Some useful phrases include:

  • I’ll send you a picture of the car in its new livery; you’ll get a kick out of it!
  • Follow me on Instagram, I’m doing a racing video diary this season.
  • Please send me your price list.
  • Would you email me, let me know a bit more about your company?
  • Let’s meet for coffee at the next event, let WhatsApp to agree a time.
  • I’d like to tell you more about what I do.

Follow Up

(SAY IT LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE AT THE BACK) FOLLOW UP!

Most people don’t follow up and that’s when a card becomes useless. You should take the lead and have a clear plan for yourself. Once you’re done speaking to someone and exchanging cars, take a quick voice note or type something on your phone so you can remember the connection. Make a note on the action and reason you mentioned because if you’re having a busy day, you might forget the specifics.

However, what if you’ve received cards from folks who have that ‘scatter far and wide’ mindset? If you’ve no action to note down, following up is still a wise move. Building contacts in a busy field makes the work of motorsport easier, more enjoyable and wider-reaching for your sponsorship opportunities down the road.

Create an email template for this kind of initial contact. Not everyone will show their value during a first meeting (including you, sometimes). While it may not feel purposeful now, following up shows:

  • Professional courtesy.
  • An interest to build on.
  • Your current and future value.
  • Your unique story.

Make It Memorable

Are you using a company business card for a cross purpose? It’s time to make your own. If you have many strings to your bow, shout about them on one card. Let people know early on that you are a brand with a story. You might also want to ask yourself whether it’s time for a redesign.

There are some fantastic design sites online or you may already know a designer that can help establish a new graphic for your brand vision. Follow this framework as you start your redesign:

  • Try not to deviate from the standardised sizing (3.5 x 2 inches). It can border on infuriating to receive a card that doesn’t fit in your wallet.
  • Use an easily readable font. Avoid script, handwriting and calligraphy fonts. I’d rather not email at all if it means spending my time trying to work out your email address.
  • A stand-out card should be a pleasure to give and receive. Take one side to focus on your brand graphic, colour, and style.
  • Your information should fit on one side. Who you are, what you do and at least two ways to make contact.

What happens if you forget? (Or they do)

This always happens! You’re at a service station and see the racing team truck of your dream drive. You’ve stayed on for a third day at Autosport but didn’t bring enough cards. They take your card, but don’t have one to offer themselves, you’ve got to keep your fingers crossed they contact you, not ideal.

Here’s some advice:

  • Jump straight to the follow up. Find them on LinkedIn and establish the connection there. Open with a reminder of your initial meeting.
  • Send an email. If you’ve taken a card, having run out of your own at a show or race, send your contact info by email. A simple ‘great to meet you today’ will suffice.
  • Have a social media back up plan for people you didn’t get the chance to meet. Take a picture of their stand, truck or car. Find their social media handle online and let them know you wish you’d had the chance to meet.
  • Avoid apologising for not having one with you. Use a reframe by immediately thanking them for asking for your card, but simply say you don’t currently have them with you. Move on. Take theirs and anchor it with an action such as a follow-up email or Twitter follow.

Connections make things happen. They take you forward and open up your world. And yes, those connections can ultimately help get you on the grid. Talent will only take you so far, especially if no one knows about you.

Make sure you have a business card but, most of all, use it.