My friend and MeshForum colleague, Shannon Clark, is a consummate networker. I didn't appreciate this quite so much when he lived here in Chicago, and we were meeting from time to time. But now that he's in the SF Bay Area, he is going at it full bore. He has some Networking Advice - useful business cards and other tips. He gets lots of business cards: ~1000 from events this summer alone. Check his advice in more detail at his website.
Tip 1 - a useful business card
Tip 2 - shortly after you get someone’s card, write a note and reminder to yourself on that card
Tip 3 - don’t be shy about discarding cards from people whom you do not want to follow up with
Tip 4 - have your cards with you and exchange them, along with context as you do so
Tip 5 - networking is about giving
Tip 6 - convert business cards from paper to digital data quickly and sync the data widely
I like to think my business card is distinctive enough and is on standard card stock for writing on the back, which I think are Shannon's primary point above.
I was particularly happy to see his comments under Tip 5 (emphasis mine):
I have mentioned this before in a previous post about networking, but it bears repeating. Always approach networking first and foremost with the attitude that you can help others. Listen to their conversation and think about how you can help them - is there someone at the same event, even someone whom you have just met who they should talk to? Have you recently read something - on or offline - which might be relevant to what they are doing? Do you know someone who could help them (and who, in turn, would appreciate talking with them)? In short, focus on how you can be helpful - while remaining aware of in turn what help you yourself at looking for.
There are many networking models, and I think the best ones have to do with this idea. What can I bring to the situation, instead of what can I take from it?