You always take a goodly supply of your own business cards with you wherever you go. Who doesn't? After all, you never know when you're going to get the opportunity to make a contact.
But you should also carry a supply of other people's business cards with you as well. Why? Because other people's business cards can serve as the entree to making that contact and letting people know you.
For instance, the last time I was at my hairdresser's, two women were talking about the problems one of them was having with her house. There was no ceiling light fixture in her living room, and she wanted one. But her friend wasn't able to give her the name of a good electrician.
Voila! My opportunity. I introduced myself, told them how pleased I was with the work of the electrician who had worked on my house, and gave the woman with the problem his business card. As I expected, this led to a more involved conversation, in the course of which I was able to tell both women what I did, and give them my business card as well.
I haven't seen any business from either of them yet, but I might. And even if I don't, they know about the helpful-woman-at-the-hairdressers-who-knows-a-great-electrician and may pass on the word to their friends.
In a past marketing tip, I talked about the importance of conversing with people, and how if you listen to them, they'll be interested in you. But if you just go around asking everyone about the weather or what they thought about the latest sporting event, you'll quickly be viewed as either boring or eccentric.
Carrying a selection of other people's business cards gives you a much higher chance of being able to converse about something that's important to your potential contact. People are much more likely to be interested in talking to someone they perceive as meeting one of their needs, and much more likely to think well of someone who gives them truly useful information.
So ask the business people you patronize for a handful of their business cards and carry them around with you. By directing business their way when you get the opportunity, you can also increase your own clientele.