Extroverts are natural business developers. They crave human interaction and find it easy to initiate a conversation. Extroverts tend to meet other extroverts. For those people, don't leave home without your business cards.
But most attorneys are not extroverts.
Most attorneys are introverts. For many introverts, starting a new relationship can be uncomfortable. this may seem counterintuitive but handing out a business card can actually make it harder to connect with others.
Many conversations are comprised entirely of small talk. The discussions don't result in specific next steps, interest in information, etc.
To illustrate the point, let's look at the typical business card exchange. Here's what normally happens: You go to a networking event, meet a few people, agree to talk again and give them your business card so they can get in touch with you. Then what happens?
Your frustration builds as you wait for days, even weeks, to hear from what seemed like a promising new relationship. Eventually, you move on rationalizing that the 'chemistry' wasn't what you had thought apparently. And your suspicion of networking's value grows.
Here's another situation. A better one, but still not optimal for the introvert. You go to the event, meet a few people, agree to talk again and exchange business cards. Now, when you don't hear from them, you can reach out to them. You have their business card.
Here's what the introvert thinks: "Yes I have their business card, but they gave it out of duress (or they felt obliged). You could send them an article or your recent newsletter but will that be viewed as presumptuous? If you hear from them, great. A new relationship could be blossoming. But if not, it's up to you to take the initiative. If you are not comfortable doing it, doubt how you'll be perceived or aren't comfortable reaching out, it can be tough.
Too often, the follow through never happens.
Now consider what happens when you don't have your business cards with you. It's probably happened to you before. You apologize profusely when the exchange ritual happens, take your new friend's card and promise to send them an e-mail with your contact information. If they also don't have a card, write their email or phone number down on something. Make sure you leave with the contact info and the responsibility to connect.
Now, there's a very legitimate reason to establish the first contact- you promised to share your contact information and are following through on that. But you almost HAVE to add something else to the email/discussion. Just sending your contact information with nothing else might as if you are just checking off a to-do item. So adding a mention of a recent news item about the company or attaching an article they'd be interested in feels much more natural. And it sets the start of a dialogue off on good footing.
The moral of the story? Leave your business cards behind and get the card of whoever you meet. now, the ball is in your court, right where you want it.