It might surprise you to discover that the most powerful lead-building tool in today’s connected world remains the humble business card.

Exchanging business cards is professional human interaction at its best. The ability to connect face to face can elevate you above competitors and colleagues who prefer to create relationships solely through emails, texts, or social media. I have built a multimillion-dollar business on this principle, and I always have a business card to offer when a conversation’s over.

A business card provides the first impression of your brand. A good business card helps create a lasting impression, especially when handed over with confidence and a smile. The personal interaction around this handover can also help you figure out if its recipient will reach out to you in the future.

I started off as a tennis coach and have become a club owner, and more besides. This transition took place by design. It was only possible through networking and leveraging that network to create partnerships and opportunities.

From the start, I was determined to give out as many business cards as I could. I played well as an amateur but never became a top-ranked professional, so I had to build my own brand from the ground up.

For more than a decade I’ve handed out at least 5,000 business cards each year. I made discussing my business and handing out business cards a part of my everyday life. I talked to everyone, whether they bagged my groceries or owned the supermarket.

Those 5,000 business cards created 5,000 opportunities to start or build relationships. For me, roughly 20% of those opportunities became solid leads. In real terms, the 5,000 cards I passed out every year helped me engage with, sell to, and onboard 1,000 more people to my business.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an independent coach own many facilities. If you can attract hundreds of new clients every year by simply handing out business cards, your business and your bottom line will grow by leaps and bounds.

We compete with a huge array of distractions vying for our clients’ time and money. The key to breaking through and capturing their interest is human engagement. While we all know it’s true, we often get sidetracked by other things.

We can easily fall into the trap of assuming our current actions will sustain or even grow our book of business. But growth is derived from a very simple equation:  if more people know your value, more people will become your clients.

Very few coaches are genuinely oversubscribed. I’m not yet one of them, but handing out business cards is a core strategy towards reaching that goal. Many coaches become discouraged because they aren’t where they want to be, but they refuse to adopt basic sales and engagement tactics. It is worse to refuse to improve than it is to admit you must get better.

We all miss opportunities — if not to sell, then to at least add people to our networks. People will only come to you if you promote the quality of your offerings in a way that cannot be ignored. And let’s face it, it is hard to ignore someone standing in front of you with a smile and a business card in their hand. Don’t overestimate the power of starting a conversation and offering a business card to anyone!