Business Cards, Data Protection and Networking – What you need to know.

Robyn Banks – Data protection expert – as Robyn likes to say, “Robyn Banks is my name not my profession!”

We do our best to put the finest quality experts in front of you our business women (and increasingly business men) because we want to ensure whatever the law or the trend you are bang up to date.

Here Robyn Banks from Adavista shares some essential information for every business owner around data protection legislation, networking and business cards.

I have recently been made aware that there’s still a lot of misunderstanding about the impact of the UK data protection legislation on businesses, particularly when business owners are networking. 

At The BWN I know they strive to ensure that they act appropriately with the data they hold on behalf of their members and contacts.  (I’m The Data Protection Specialist that Mandie Holgate – Founder of The Business Womans Network and her team use for their own compliance.) The success and building of the businesses of our “members” is fundamental to our ethics and every month I network with The BWN I do my best to ensure everyone is getting it right.

As a data protection implementation specialist I know how the law is supposed to work however I can also see how complicated and confusing it can appear for business women.

When Mandie and I spoke recently I decided to write this article to give some guidance to remind business owners of the protocols around networking and business cards. (These are the “rules” that I help The BWN, Mandie and her team follow.) 

Look out for this smiley face because Robyn is always happy to talk about data protection and your business. Robyn networks with us in Essex, North London and Suffolk.

Networking is big business in today’s corporate world as we all strive to take our place in the workplace.  For many small business owners (and even some larger corporates) networking and learning about other people’s businesses and how they can complement our own is a vital, or even the only, marketing tool we use. 

To help a person remember us and what we do, we hand out business cards at networking events.  A business card holds personal data as defined in UK data protection legislation, including the UK Abridged “GDPR” – but the concepts around the protocols of utilising this data have been around in previous legislation too –namely the Data Protection Act 1998.  The new legislation of May 2018 did not change these protocols. 

If I am given a business card at a networking event, then that is “consent” from the individual to contact them and either

a) seek more information on what they do.


b) market my services to them. 

This I can do once without seeking further consent from them. If they do not wish to receive further information from me, then they should send a polite email asking me to desist from sending them “stuff”. 

If I ignore this request and send more, they should ensure I have received their request to stop!  If I have and still persist in sending them information, then they have the right to take this further with the  supervisory authority, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). 

ICO are very unlikely to take any action, even investigate, if the person has not “unsubscribed” and ensure I have received the “unsubscribe”!

I was at a BWN event recently where the respect for data was taken even one step further  – and for the record, it was not just because I was there! 

One lady present at the event really did not feel comfortable being included in any of the photos taken by the event photographer  – and so she wasn’t.  No fuss, just noted and no follow up needed as no pictures of the lady concerned have been included in any of the “publicity” for the event. That’s respecting Data.

The key point here is to be professional and not use a misunderstanding of the law to “put down” others  – especially competitors.  However well meant it just causes aggro and can be avoided if everyone respects the protocols in the first place.

Let me sign off by saying that there are still a lot of business owners out there who think they have the premium knowledge on data protection impacts on business – only to show themselves up as non-professional in their approach.  This then impacts more on their business than those they are trying to “harm” as it damages their credibility and reputation more than those they were trying to be clever about.

Data protection is not a new thing, business owners need to be interested in it, is. If in doubt ask an expert not someone that “heard a talk once.” I find that the companies (and I include Mandie’s here) that get it right easily are those that were already getting it right.

I know that The BWN does not add people to it’s data base and uses platforms like Mailchimp to ensure when they do get in touch they are doing it in an ethical, professional and legal way – something that the law now looks to enforce, I feel that the smart businesses already have a respectful approach and that makes my job easier!

I attend many BWN events and I’m happy to have a chat anytime. I will also be one of the experts on hand on the 20th of March at The BWN’s 11th birthday so feel free to pose questions on the day too.

  • March 2, 2020
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