Today’s lesson is all about keeping track of the networking connections that you make. Even as I share this bit of advice, I must fall on my sword and admit, I have not been the greatest example of organization — I was slow to get started and once I took on full-time employment, I failed to maintain a tight database. Additionally, I suspect that there are much better, more efficient means of keeping track of your networking contacts and related notes. So, please do as I say, not as I do! Start keeping track early… maintain your database (forever!) and keep it up-to-date. And, if you know of a good tracking mechanism, please share it with the rest of us. OK, end of disclosure.
By the time it finally dawned on me that I had become a “professional networker,” I realized that I had done a poor job of keep track of who I had met with, what we had discussed and how I should follow up. Ugh!
Know that I use Outlook very regularly and had even become proficient in the use of Google’s calendaring and contact tools, but I did not want to mix my already large contact database – a more general database – with my precious networking database. I quickly regrouped and created a simple worksheet to include the following:
- First Name
- Last Name
- City, State Zip
- Referred By
- Meeting 1 Date
- Meeting 1 Notes
- Meeting 2 Date
- Meeting 2 Notes
- Meeting 3 Date
- Meeting 3 Notes
- Meeting n Date
- Meeting n Notes
While an Excel spreadsheet may not be the most efficient method, it did the trick and I was able to quickly sort and utilize the information in one convenient location. To the degree that it is helpful to you, I am including a template for your use – see link.
If you do utilize it, I urge you to amend it to your liking so that it works with your networking style.
One important item to include in your notes is what your next steps are with the contact whether that be simply to send a Thank You note (you may want to add a column to check the box when you have completed this important step), call again in three weeks, contact his/her referrals, etc. Tomorrow, we will go into more depth on the art of the follow up.