I recently joined a networking group to build my freelance business, and I mentioned to the organizer that I was receiving spam - IMO unsolicited emails - from people to whom I had given my business card. I unsubscribed from one newsletter because I'd never subscribed in the first place. I was informed that what I did was wrong and that giving my card to someone at a networking event meant I wanted to be connected with that person and receive their newsletters. I explained my and CM's opt-in rules, but clearly we were not going to agree on this one.
I need a sanity check. I'm pretty sure that giving someone your card is NOT an opt in. But is there some unwritten exception when you're at an event where the point is to connect with other business people? I didn't think so. It's just that this person seemed so adamant and suggested that unsubscribing from a newsletter of a networking contact was unacceptable and implied ill intentions on my part.
As this applies to my business, I can't advocate people creating lists of subscribers using CM if they're adding every person who ever gave them a biz card...right? Am I being overly anal about it? I'd really like to know if others have challenges explaining and/or enforcing opt in guidelines and how you deal with it. Do you hold your ground, or do you look the other way? I am prepared to not offer this service if I think someone is violating the permission policy, but it would be better to win them over instead.
We agree with you that you should not assume because you have a business card, you are entitled to add that person to your lists.
Here's an article where we cover a nice way to get explicit permission: http://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/entry/678/getting-opt-in-permission-offline/
Thanks, Matthew. Glad to have that confirmed. I was starting to feel loopy. Clearly this is a people problem, not a technology problem. During the conversation I described above, I suggested the method written about in your article, and the response was that no one at a networking event should have to opt in. It's a disagreement about business practices, pure and simple. I suppose that I simply have the option of not working with someone I think will not respect the permission rules.
That said, I recommend that everyone read the article Matthew provided - I think it's a great way to manage in-person opt ins.
That would be a mind boggling conversation to me. Networking doesn't equal permission, it equals networking, making contacts. It would mean if someone wanted to chat about email marketing they should grab that business card I handed them not add me to their sales mailing list! Explicit permission is always a good thing :) and it definitely sounds like more of a people problem there.
Shame you contradict yourself on your blog post here:
Maybe you should revise what you have written.
If someone gives you their business card and you have explained to them that you will be in touch by email, you can contact them. If they dropped their business card in a fishbowl at a trade show, there must be a sign indicating they will be contacted by email.
That is about as vague as it comes. Maybe it should say:
"Do you want to receive an email newsletter from me, periodically thoughout the year?"
That would be more explicit - oh and have that conversation recorded, transcribed and etched into stone, so that it is clear that you are not going to be a spammer.
I am not an expert but I reckon it's explained quite clearly and here is my take on it.
Let’s say someone provides you with their business card and you then ask them if they would like to receive your periodic email newsletter;
If that contact replies 'yes' then you can add them to your mailing list.
If that contact replies 'no' then you can't add them to your mailing list.
If you forgot to ask then you can't add them to your mailing list.
If you did not want to ask then you can't add them to your mailing list.
Let’s say someone drops their business card into a fishbowl clearly signed with the permission policy of your email newsletter;
By providing their business card that contact has agreed to the permission policy and you can add them to your mailing list.
By not providing their business card that contact has not agreed to the permission policy and you can’t add them to your mailing list.
If you have forgot to clearly sign the fishbowl with the permission policy of your email newsletter then you can’t add them to your mailing list.
If you did not want to clearly sign the fishbowl with the permission policy of your email newsletter then you can’t add them to your mailing list.
Well that’s my take on things but I think it’s equally important that people not confuse this with regular one-to-one contact. If somebody passes me their business card at a networking event and then a few weeks later I want to personally send them an email I can do that no problem right?