Gone are the days of passing out business cards as a main means of professional networking.
With smartphones in our pockets and various online profiles floating around the Internet, sharing contact information is changing, too.
Where working people once had to gather for business mixers or rely on professional introductions from mutual friends, we can text or email our information, easily tailoring the information we choose to share.
As for introductions, social media networks enable users to initiate direct contact. Profiles, which include head shots and work history, make the interaction seem less like a cold call since the recipient of a message can familiarize herself with the person who has written before she decides how to respond.
Below are a few tips for new networking.
Apples to Apples
Do you have an iPhone?
Have you ever shared a friend’s phone number with another friend who has an iPhone using the “share contact” option?
You find the person whose information you want to share in your contacts list, tap on their name and then select “share contact,” and a summary of that person’s info is instantly sent.
Try doing that with your own information.
A friend recently sent me his contact information this way. In the file were phone numbers, email and physical addresses for his home and work lives. It also included his website address, photo and birthday.
He said he keeps a number of these personal contact files on his phone, and determines which one to send based on what his relationship is with that person.
He has one for his company job, one for his personal side project and one for friends.
That way, with a couple of taps on his iPhone screen, he can send relevant information to a person he’s just met.
The one downfall of this method is that contact sharing can only happen between Apple devices. Sent to a Samsung Galaxy and a Nokia Lumia, the files failed.
Luckily, there are other options.
Can you see me now?
Mobile business cards such as Vizibility act as mobile-friendly minature websites with information about a user and his or her organization. The card can be shared through QR (Quick Response)codes, email signatures, text messages, online profiles, Apple Passbook and by near field communications, or beaming.
Vizibility saves card recipients the hassle of manually entering the information into electronic address books later, and helps senders curate their online image and track use of the card. The service includes analytics and alerts whenever your business card is viewed.
Basic cards are free for individuals; upgraded cards for individuals or small teams are $79 annually per user; and a pack of cards for organizations or large teams are $999 annually.
CEO James Alexander said the cards are popular among lawyers and businesspeople.
The information-rich cards show a company logo, head shot as well as buttons that call, email or text with a single tap. If users are part of a company account, a directory links them to other colleagues.
Recipients of the card can choose to download or email the card or use it to make an introduction, and can see at a glance how many LinkedIn and Facebook friends he or she shares with the new acquaintance.
A links section shows bio and various online profiles. In “find me on Google,” the cardholder can choose which results are displayed.
For traditionalists, Vizibility cards include traditional paper business cards with a QR code that directs to the online card.
If one must deal in paper cards, try apps Google Goggles and ScanBizCard for iPhone to “read” and store business card information.
Broaden your social media circle
Most people use big names such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but there are also social networks for particular fields and industries.
Sermo.com, billed “the largest online community, exclusive to physicians,” connects 200,000 physicians in 68 countries and offers features such as crowd-sourced clinical consultations.
On the website, Dr. Benjamin Labrot said he started posting mysterious, unsolved cases on Sermo, and got answers. Labrot is the founder of Floating Doctors, a nonprofit organization that does charity work Haiti, Honduras and Panama.
“What struck me immediately was not only how quickly multiple physicians from multiple specialties would comment,” Labrot said, “but also how daring the physicians were in offering their opinions.”
Lawyer social networking sites have come and gone, but the latest is Esqspot, which focuses on Esqspot.com and Esqspot Live. The website features job listings, events, a national directory and online store. Esqspot live hosts in-person events, helping lawyers make face-to-face contacts in their communities.
“Online contact plus personal contact equals real connection,” the website states.
For entrepreneurs in all industries, biznik.com is a place to meet likeminded people. It’s motto is “going it alone, together,” and it has community websites for several cities, including Las Vegas, ranging from marketing to finance to art.
Contact reporter Kristy Totten at email@example.com or 702-477-3809. Follow kristy_tea on Twitter.