One of the best pieces of business advice I was ever given came from Paul Daniels, famous British TV magician of the 80’s and 90’s. The advice: give a business card to every person you interact with.
In about 2001, Paul was travelling in Sydney and briefly gave a one day workshop on business skills for magicians and other performers. At one point he asked the crowd: “Ok, please put your hand up if you have business cards on you right now.” Along with most other people in the room, I raised my hand.
He responded: “Why? You should have given them all away already.”
He continued (and I’m paraphrasing heavily from memory here): “Give a business card to everyone you interact with. When you pay the bill at a restaurant, leave a business card. When someone asks you the time, tell them, and then give them a business card. If you get pulled over by the police for speeding, pay the fine and then give them a business card. You never know who will have an event coming up that could book you.”
It was a valuable piece of business advice that really stuck with me.
Note that this is not the same as “give your business cards to everyone you can find.” That’s just indiscriminate spamming. The tip here is to add the exchange of a business card on to any already existing human interaction. Ending the interaction with “Oh and by the way, if you ever know someone running an event, let me know if I can help” is a perfectly acceptable and sincere message to hand over a card with.
And to be fair, I don’t do it with absolutely *every* person I meet. That still feels creepy to me. But I do err heavily on the side of giving out a business card in more situations than I would instinctively.
The vast majority of work I’ve done over the years has come to me via someone taking my business card, and some of it has come from the most unexpected people. It might be a year or more between them taking the card and making the call, but each card is like a tiny message in a bottle. They float out into the world, and sometimes float back with a gig attached to them.
Nowadays, if I’m wearing a jacket, this is how many business cards I leave the house with:
Most people leave the house with “a few” business cards. I prefer a chunk. It makes sure you’ll never be in that awkward situation where you don’t have a business card on you when someone asks for one. It also encourages you to hand them out, even just to lighten the brick-like load in your jacket pocket.