When to throw out a business card

When To Throw Out A Business Card

It’s not just a matter of clutter. It’s not just a matter of contact management. Some of your contacts in your management files need to be thrown out also. It’s about productivity. It’s about making sure you are really moving your business forward and not just doing busy work.

Those contacts that you do not actively work are useless. It’s great when you have an autoresponder going out, and they get messages out to your contacts. However, some of your contacts, you have not written a note, an email, or made a call to in over a year. What do you do with that? If you want to re-establish contact, then do so with some information that benefits that person. If you can not find anything that really helps them, then forget it. I just recently got an email from someone I literally have not heard from in 2 years or more.

This person stopped returning phone calls or emails a LONG time ago. The email told me all about the charity she’ll be participating in and how much money I need to donate to help. In and of itself, this is great. I am happy she has found something to make her life meaningful. I am happy to donate to causes. At the same time, I am thinking, hmmm. This is the only thing you have to say to me? Give some money?

So, do yourself a favor. Make a real effort to connect or just drop it. You will run into that person some where and have the opportunity to start over. In the meantime, if you make they feel like you just want to use them, it’s not going to work. So look at your contacts. Send them something good for them ( not you) and drop the rest.

If you have gotten busy and do not regularly speak to your important contacts, change your schedule and start making time for that.

So, when was the last time you threw out a business card and why?


22 Responses to “When to throw out a business card”
  1. Dr. Letitia Wright says:

    I Love that, that’s a great strategy!

  2. Each year I make a point to send out an email that says “Please respond if you still want to keep in touch”. If people don’t respond then it means they are either not getting the email, not wanting to get the email or not there.

    This year, I am going to use a combination of both email and phone calls (Voiceshot.com) is a great tool to send out the same message to a group of people. Very inexpensive. That way you know for sure who would like to keep in touch.

    I have people that have never even met me that have been on my list for over 7 years.


  3. Tara says:

    I use the system SendOutCards where I can make notes. After 3 attempts if I don’t know the person personally, I get rid of the contact. I get rid of cards immediately. Too much paper. I have clutter issues!


  4. Michele Wilson says:

    Call me old fashion… I have created my own set of business card rules. For business contacts, I generally have two separate piles. Direct and indirect contacts. My direct contacts are people who I have worked directly with in my professional career. I have some cards that go back many years. It is surprising how often I have referred back to them. Saving these contacts gives me a valuable resource for those times when you need answers to questions you just don’t know. My indirect contacts, I will permanently “file” with each new year!


  5. Dr. Letitia Wright says:

    I like that too Michele

  6. Martha Tucker says:

    I throw out my cards when i hear the person died, and if that person has family that I know of, i have sent condolences. Further, i throw out cards when the person hasn’t answered by fifth hello, call for acquaintance, lunch, note, invitation, or just hello. Those notes are usually sent a month apart. If i haven’t heard by the fifth one, and no one sent a change of address, then I feel that person has put me on a low priority list, or no list at all, and I can better use my time contacting someone that might value my first to fifth call, or note.

    so after five attemps to connect in a meaningful way, I Throw that card away.

    Martha Tucker

  7. Tami Burrus says:

    Dr. Wright!

    Thank you for inviting me to read your wonderful Blog post. I completely agree, in respect to make time to make contact with every one of your contacts. I made it my personal mission when I became an online marketer to treat my clients and co workers as what they are, online friends. I go out of my way, to if nothing else, forward them a cute email at least, if I have nothing else or the time to say anything. I have vaults full of loving, inspirational, and motivational emails, and you would not believe the difference it will make in your relationships with contacts if they recieve at least one from you a month. It only takes a few minutes to send it to all your contacts, I have them in groups and categories in my email program. I make it a personal mission to send everyone of my contacts SOMETHING, once a month. Like you said, if you do not have something of interest to share, then share an inspirational or motivational email.

    As for throwing out business cards, or scratching out a contacts name, this way there is no such thing, I have never thrown out a contacts information yet. UNLESS, for some unforseen reason they would ask me to not contact them, which fortunately has never happened, yet. You never know when they, or you, will have something of interest to pass on in the future.

    My ‘brick & mortar’ business was as a restaraunt manager. For years before becoming an Assistant Manager then a Manager, I was a server. Many things stick out in my mind about my training in the beginning, but ONE sits foremost in my mind and thoughts, “Treat every customer/client like they are a friend you invited into your home and want them to be there and be your friend.”

    Follow this rule of thumb and you cannot fail in anything or any business that you attempt to build. You will build long, strong, lasting friendships and clients.

    Blessing to You
    Peace, Love, & Prosperity!

    Tami Burrus
    Partner & Team Member
    The TOBAS Marketing Group LLC. ~ We Empower U
    People Helping People to Become Successful

  8. Zara Merrill says:

    Good Afternoon,
    Great blog! I was just thinking about how often I actually follow up with people- customers and clients. I do my best to keep in touch with as many as I can.

  9. Jim Zaccaria says:

    I throw them out EVERY time someone comes and sticks it in my face or hand telling me all about how Great They are without establishing a true ‘connection’ with me first. Same usually goes for those useless Pass the Stack of Cards “Leads” groups which I won’t knowingly attend, but sometimes get ‘roped’ into. Some people throw away Ugly, ineffective cards, but I like to Save them as Examples. I also PROMISE to throw away any and ALL cards properly entered into my database as I am ‘downsizing’ in preparation for going on the road in the RV 🙂

  10. Donna Fisher says:

    I agree with what you say about contacting people to be of service to them. When you nurture your network and keep the communication lines open, then it is much easier to call someone when you have a need. So, it’s important to stay in touch with people in order to keep the connections.

  11. Dr. Letitia Wright says:

    Yes, Frank, that is my branding pet peeve. Especially when they are in marketing.  I am thinking, why would you advertise anyone else? It really does make a difference!

  12. Damon Wilson says:

    Like my Dad always told me, “Eat the meat and throw away the bone”. If that can be some use to you and your business thats par for the course. If not” file 13″! Always try to be a help to everyone you meet no matter how they treat you! Communication is everything.

  13. Leutrell says:

    I too trow them away when I know the person is dead. Most times the card goes into the archives notebook file and remains unless I copy it and use it in a folder with the person.

  14. Steve says:

    All busienss card information goes into a spreadsheet, partitioned into the lead source and reason. Auto responses and follow up phone calls take place for 4/5 attempts before the name and contact is discarded.
    This can be up to 8 weeks, but not usually longer.
    Then you can shock eberyone and send a Holiday greeting to EVERYONE, and re-start the conversation.

    The point is to continue the conversation, not continually ‘hawk’ your product. Also, of course, you are continually promoting your busienss, so you are giving out your card, and collecting others on a daily basis. Don’t keep useless paper – get into software!

  15. Frank S. Adamo says:

    This is a great blog question. I like Sabrina’s answer. I also like Michelle’s old fashion answer and I really like ?Eat the meat and throw away the bone?. I’ve heard it before, but it’s a good reminder.

    I’ve had business cards from 20 years ago. This was BCS (Before CardScan-a fabulous time savings tool) Since most of my communication is through email, I tend to throw out the cards with no email addresses. Then I scan in the others, making a distinction between generic and individualized email addresses. Those with AOL, gmail, yahoo, msn, etc. email addresses, I place in a secondary category — unless they are personal friends. I really don’t understand when a business person has a nice Web site, such as http://www.abc.com, but their email address is abc@yahoo.com. If their email address is sam@abc.com, then they are placed in a professional category.

    I throw away the card after it is scanned.

  16. Valerie Patton says:

    I have tons of business cards that I have collected over the years when I used to work at the bank. I have slowely added them to my contact list in outlook. When I receive new ones I go ahead and enter them into my computer saves me space & time.

  17. Kim hanks author of "save the best for last" says:


    indeed its the wise way to do it.


  18. Amber says:

    These are some very interesting responses!

    The only business cards I get are for my “day job”. I generally keep them around for six months and then dispose of them. They are usually included with packages so I know how to contact if there is a problem with the contents.

    I agree that contact needs to be made periodically and after so many times without acknowledgement it’s almost safe to say it’s time to get rid of the card.

  19. Micki Peluso says:

    I keep business cards for years, just in case I might need them. Then in a saner moment, go through my wallet and throw away all those I think I no longer need. Within a week or so, I have a need for that person and now no longer have the business card. Now I play it safe and keep them all, except for the obvious ones that I know I’ll never use. For my own busines cards, I hand them out instead of flyers as promos for my book and find that to be effective, since the card has all my websites on it and info on both my book and me. I like to think they aren’t thrown away so quickly. 🙂

    Micki Peluso

  20. Eydie Stumpf says:

    I agree with Frank Adamo. Purchase a card scanner and dump the cards. With their permission, add them to your email marketing contact list (Constant Contact, iContact, etc.). Keeping in touch with these contacts is so very important. But, ALWAYS give them the option to opt out of your emails…. once they opt out…. thats a huge hint they don’t to hear from you anymore. The great thing about a professional email marketing service is that opt outs….and opt ins are automatically dealt with.

    Also, as Frank mentioned…. Use your url address as your email address. As an entrepreneur, it is unprofessional to use a Yahoo, Hotmail or AOL email address. When using your url address you are continually branding yourself…. and keeping you top of mind! In addition, use your first name and not info@, support@, admin@ or any other anonymous email name. These merely creates distance between you and your clients and prospects. It deems you as unaproachable and a non-person.

    Be patient with your stack of cards. Organize them in a database and continue to make contact with them. Being consistant is key and offer them solutions…without directly marketing to them. And remember, these days email is not the only means of connecting with people. Someone mentioned “Send Out Cards”. Excellent marketing technique. Look to Social Media to connect with some of those business cards! Small talk on Facebook could lead to big clients!

    Thanks for listening… Eydie 🙂

  21. Mike Jensen says:

    I Enjoyed that thanks. loved the picture also, but there is only so much time in a day. I try to keep up with anything that is truly personal

  22. Steve Orris says:

    I need to throw away more cards. By the time I get back to some people they are out of business or working for someone else. And as Frank and Eydie mentioned, true professionals will keep their contact information the same no matter where they go. I’ve had domain email for a few years now. I’ve changed my business cards several times but my contact info stays pretty much the same.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!