I was in a meeting last week, and it was one of those second meetings with a new client that isn’t quite a client yet, but soon will be. Hopefully.
This means they’re still in the process of introducing you to people higher up in the food chain that always seems to have flown in from a far away place, and only has a 30 minute window in which they need to have their proverbial socks knocked off.
It’s not about the precious object; it’s about the story surrounding it.
Once the socks are back on their feet and everyone is in agreement, the contract is signed and the isn’t-quite-a-client becomes a Client. If not, then not.
Yeah, no pressure.
Anyhow, back to the meeting. We all did introductions around the conference table, and when it came to be my turn I decided to do something I hardly ever do.
I handed out business cards.
Honestly, I don’t really like business cards, but sometimes they come in handy. For me that’s something like 3 times a year, and this was one of those times.
So I passed them around, and while doing so I mentioned something about how I hardly ever get a legit chance to pass out business cards in a big fancy conference room overlooking the city, so by god I was surely going to take this chance.
I hand out business cards like 3 times a year. This this was one of those times.
The senior executive in the room laughed, and shared a story about how he doesn’t like business cards either, and how that fact had recently created a business etiquette issue between himself and a group of Japanese executives.
They had given their business cards to him as Japanese executives often do; carefully holding the card with two hands and presenting the card to the recipient, creating a small moment of ceremony. The problem was he had no cards to give them in return, as he sometimes forgets to carry them. He ended up feeling like he’d offended them, but luckily they were understanding about it.
Now, the funny thing.
It just so happens that our business card is specifically designed to have enough clearance across the top so that it can be presented to a person in the two-handed Japanese style, and still have the name on the card be easily read.
Why were our cards designed like this? Well, even though I don’t find the business card object precious, the idea that the process of giving the card to someone can be precious, now that’s cool. The design of our cards was a little nod to that idea.
I’m glad I decided to hand out business cards in this meeting. The whole exchange created a neat moment to share stories, and after everybody put their socks back on I think we all knew a little more about the agency/client relationship we were getting into.
It sounds like a cliche, but sometimes it’s really not about the precious object. It’s about the story surrounding it.