Steps to Networking – Step 71: Prioritize

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 14th, 2010

STEP 71: Prioritize

Ideally, it’s best to enter contact information in your files as close to the initial meeting as possible. Record it that evening or the first thing the next day. Then communicate with your contact via email or postal mail within two or three days to follow up. Unfortunately, most mere mortals are not that organized, disciplined or efficient. We tend to throw all the contact information we collect into a heap and get to it when we get to it – – – which won’t do!

If you’ve collected a bunch of business cards, prioritize them to determine who you want to call first. Then enter the contact information into your system. Move first to communicate with:

1.Those you promised to call or email. Place the business cards for those you agreed to contact in a separate stack. Then enter their contact information in your files. Make sure to email or call them within the two or three days of your initial contact. By communicating promptly, you demonstrate that you are a person of your word who does what he/she promised and a person of action. Following up promptly also allows you to build upon the warmth or excitement generated by your exchange or the spirit and fond memories of the event.

2. Contacts who could be important to you. Record his/her contact information in your files immediately. Communicate with him/her within a few days, but no later than a week after you met. Most people are flattered when you call them promptly, especially if the initial contact was strong. If you made a good connection, contacts will usually be usually delighted to hear from you and be eager to pick off where you left. Calling promptly will not make you seem desperate or uncool. Besides, it’s childish, and often self-defeating, to try to be cool with people who could matter.

Call soon. After a week or two, memories get buried by the demands of fast-paced, busy lives – – – even when you made the most terrific impression. After two or more weeks, consider yourself lucky to be remembered at all.

Classify the business cards you collect in three categories, the:

• A List. Those whom you promised to call and most want to court. Also include those you should thank.
• B List. Contacts you would like to spend time with again or help, but not immediately and
• C List. People on whose radar screen you wish to remain, but who you don’t want to take time to meet with again, at least not at this time.

Separate your A List into those contacts whom you can help. Focus first on those you can help in order to form the habit of making giving your first priority. By giving first, you build good will and give your contacts a strong reason to remember you and want to reciprocate. Call or email your contact within a week of your introduction to offer your help. Strike while the memory of your introduction is still fresh. If you wait over two weeks, you will essentially be making a cold call.

(Excerpted from NETWORKING MAGIC: Making Connections That Will Change Your Life By Rick Frishman and Jill Lublin With Mark Steisel)

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