Steps to Networking – Step 19: Get organized

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 4th, 2010

STEP 19: Get organized

Now that you’ve identified the members of your network, create a system that will always keep you current. Create a detailed network database on your rolodex, PalmPilot® or address book or simply start a separate card or computer file. Also investigate the numerous computer programs that provide contact-organizing services. They include ACT!, TeleMagic®, Goldmine and tons more. Think of the members of your network as your stock in trade, your inventory. Keep detailed records of your stock of network members and review them regularly.

Collect as many names as possible because you never know when a contact could be or lead you to the perfect fit. Successful networks collect business cards and contact information as if it was money. They believe you can never have too many. A contact who you barely met, may have heard about you, been impressed by you or think that you or your product/service are fabulous and want to hook you up with his/her network.

Divide your database into three groups.

• A Group—Your top, most important network members. The people who you feel will help you the most.
• B Group—Other, less important contacts who you have actually met and
• C Group—People you don’t know but have heard of, seen, read articles by and would like to meet.

At a minimum, your database should contain the contact’s:

• Name
• Business/Employer
• Street address
• E-mail address
• Telephone number
• Back up telephone numbers
• Fax number
• Specialty area
• Source information such as how you got his/her name, how and where you met, and friends, associates and interests that you may have in common.
• Personal information including your conversations with the contact, the subject and ultimate result of those conversations, requests you made, previous help given, dates you last spoke and the results and notes on the contact’s family, birthday, families’ birthdays, hobbies and special interests and/or achievements including those that may have received media attention.

Become a collector. Gather lots of information about your contacts and note it in your records. This information can be the icebreaker that softens contact and makes him/her want to help. It can also assist you in positioning yourself. For example, when you know that an elusive contact is a breeder of champion pugs, your might want to read up on pugs attend some dog shows.

Get into the habit of collecting business cards and making notes. Carry a small notebook or a personal digital assistant, such as a PalmPilot®, at all times to record names and pertinent information. Keep notebooks and writing implements in you car, briefcase, purse, boat, and near all computers and phones.

Ask everyone you meet for his/her business card and give them yours. On the back of their card, jot down where and when you met them and what you discussed. Each night, when you empty your pockets, briefcases or purses, toss the cards into a receptacle that you assign exclusively for your collection of contact information. Then set aside a specific time each week, like 9 AM each Monday, to transfer information from the cards to your network database.

Review and update your network database on a regular basis. Update all changes as soon as they occur. At the least, scan your database once a month and go over it from top to bottom every three months. The more familiar you are with your list, the more easily and quickly you will be able to link network contacts when the need arises.

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

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