Try this LinkedIn trick to reduce your stack of colleague business cards

Last night was two firsts for me. I attended a Chicago Cubs baseball game from a rooftop venue across from the stadium. (The Cubs faced my city’s Milwaukee Brewers). The second precedent: Using LinkedIn to reduce or eliminate the need to retain business cards.

I was able to accomplish both because the rooftop socializing event, and a pre-game presentation, were jointly organized by the Milwaukee and Chicago Business Marketing Associations.

Mingling in the posh, luxury box-like meeting room, I had plenty of time to mingle and press the flesh between innings.

By their own estimates, LinkedIn is signing new professionals to its social network at a rate of one every second of every day. In just four years, the site has become de rigueur for executives looking to build their network of contacts. Which is, well, everyone.

It’s an impressive network. Below is a recent summary of who can be found on the site:

A rundown of who is on LinkedIn
A rundown of who is on LinkedIn

The meteoric growth of LinkedIn’s member base means that compared to two years ago, I now rarely search for someone within the site and not find them. And every time I do find someone and add them as a business associate, my own network grows.

Last night I decided to put this ubiquity to the test. For those I spoke to whom I truly saw a value in keeping in touch with (and they with me), I did something different. Instead of simply exchanging business cards, I used my smartphone to go into LinkedIn, search for them, and invite them to add me as a contact.

Now I have something even better than a business card. I have a database entry of these contacts that changes as they move through the ranks of their company, or a future employer. And they have an opportunity to contact me with a favor or other request for assistance — which is, of course, the lifeblood of good business networking.

Looking back at these two firsts from last night, I can tell you I will definitely use the LinkedIn technique again, where appropriate. As for rooftop voyeurism, I must say it was better networking than “spectating.” This shot of my view (unaided by the dozens of big screen televisions throughout the facility) was taken by my smartphone.

The baseball is over there somewhere!
The baseball is over there somewhere!

P.S. Too bad about the Brewers. Better luck tonight in Game #2 of there three-game Chicago line-up.