Every trip I take, I always manage to forget exactly one item. Doesn’t matter how many lists I make, how early I pack, how much I re-check my bag, or how many extra things I bring – there will always be one thing missing. So I have relegated myself to just making sure that one item is not a critical item. So far, I’ve never forgotten anything I truly need.
This trip, the only thing I forgot was business cards. A bummer, but most students don’t have business cards anyway so I can get along. I’ve been listening to a never-ending parade of presentations since I’ve been here (it’s my job to attend talks and network, you know) and occasionally there will be one that is relevant enough I’d like to keep in touch with the speaker. So I usually wait until the end of the session, introduce myself, and ask a few questions about the presentation. If I’d like to follow up later, I’ll ask for a business card.
The only time I’ve felt bad about not having contact information is when I speak to presenters from Asian countries. The culture, it turns out, is quite different there. Relationships and pecking orders are highly important, as are (it turns out) business cards. The presentation of business cards is almost a ritualistic affair. I first learned this when I went to Japan in undergrad – it’s customary to accept the business card with a bow (the depth of the bow depending on your relationship to the giver), hold it in both hands and carefully look at it before putting it away. Here in America, those customs are relaxed, but the business card is still important.
So when I wanted to send one speaker from Japan a note afterwards to discuss how his work could be helpful to my work, I asked for his email. He insisted that he have contact information from me as well, so I wrote my name and email on a slip of paper and handed it to him. I felt rather embarrassed as I watched how he carefully accepted the torn slip, read it, and placed it neatly inside his suit jacket.
I mean, if I thought it was going to be that important to him, I would have at least torn the edges STRAIGHT….
But all in all, an acceptable item to forget. I have latptop, presentation, ID, money, and business clothes – since I bought a good book in the gift shop, I may not even need to come home. J