The Work in Networking

You’re going to networking events, you’re having connection meetings, and you want to build solid professional relationships. By now you understand the work in networking. How to do you keep track of it all?

If you have 2 connection meetings per week for a year (excluding vacation and holidays), you’ll have around 96 connection meetings per YEAR. Over the course of those meetings you should learn a great deal about the people you meet with. One problem I have is that I am so busy, that I just can’t remember everything I’ve heard and who I’ve heard it from.

Connection Resource Tool

When I started in the corporate world, I had a state of the art connection resource tool. It was called a Rolodex! I had all my contacts information in this Rolodex; name, phone number, fax number, address. I also made extra notes on each person’s card. For instance when I learned that an associate was expecting their first child I made a note of that and when the baby was due. Then when I called this associate I would remember to check in and get an update on the pregnancy and ultimately the birth. I could send a congratulations card (at the time it was an actual card, sent in the actual mail). Yes, before smartphones there really was a lot of work in networking!

No Rolodex? No worries!

Today, the Rolodex has gone the way of the flip phone, but the need for a tool to help you manage the information you learn from your business connections is still needed. You may have heard of or even used one of the many CRM (Customer Relationship Management) packages. Depending on your needs a full blown CRM may be right for you. Here’s a quick review of some of the most popular CRMs. Most commercial CRMs have an option where you can try them out for a free trial period to see if one of them fits your needs.

An alternative, to both the Rolodex and the full blown CRM, is a simple spreadsheet. If you are just starting out or if your needs are straightforward this is a terrific option.

What to Track

The three most important pieces of information you want to keep track of include:
1. Best means of contacting the person. People appreciate it when you ask them what the best way for you to contact them is. Some prefer text, some social media, some prefer email, and some people like the good old fashioned phone call. Knowing this simple piece of information actually helps you feel more comfortable contacting the person.
2. A section for general notes. This is where you keep track of the information you want to remember because you truly have interest. Make note of name of a person’s spouse, where they went to college, if they are a big fan of a particular football team. Basically anything you’ve heard over the course of your connections that you don’t want to forget.
3. Keep track of the dates and ways you’ve contacted the person. You’d be surprised how quickly time flies by. Tracking the dates of each contact you have insures you are working towards building relationships. Using the information you gathered in the general notes helps you on subsequent contacts.

The Real Work in Networking

Where does the work in networking come in? After every meeting with the people in your network go to your tracking tool and update it. Yes, this may take a few minutes, but over the course of your career it can be a gold mine.

Whether you choose a CRM tool, a spreadsheet, or (if you can still buy them) a Rolodex; be faithful in your use. When you put the work in networking you will reap the rewards.

Laurel Fischer is a Relationship Marketing and Strategy expert. By improving your marketing and sales communication your business will reach new heights. At STL Interactive Innovations, LLC, the “Sky’s The Limit” in what you and your organization can achieve. Want to learn more? Contact Laurel today.