Keeping Track

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
  • Company
  • Title
  • Street
  • City, State Zip
  • Zip
  • Direct
  • Switchboard
  • Mobile
  • Email
  • 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.

Coffee-Lunch-Coffee Networking Contacts Worksheet

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.

4 thoughts to “Keeping Track”

  1. Alana,

    You have written an excellent article and most relevant in today’s busy world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I work in sales for three different companies. I am involved in outside organizations, family, friends, etc. with a lot of contacts that I want the data stored and properly updated.

    Keeping up with contacts and using the info as a data base is most frustrating today. As per your article, for another business, I started using an Excel file many, many years ago and expanded the columns to many items to keep track of “IMPORTANT” data. I am a power user of pivot tables.

    Today, my main contact base is my email.

    In effect, today, I can NOT work without email in my business. My brain just does NOT allow me to remember all of the items said by me or by my customers, friends, etc. I work in Brasil and now many people use WhatsApp as it works on an international basis and it is free. However, most businesses use email. It is flexible and can be sent to one, a few or many persons. I was with a system called Earthlink and made the painful switch many years ago due to excessive spam which robbed me of my valuable time. Earthlink did an good/excellent job. After running out of space, (I bought the max allowed), I decided to change. I first went to Gmail because of the many tools Google offers. However, after working Google being separate from Outlook which many business use to set appointments, etc., I caved in and decided to use Outlook for my personal email.

    On my Cell phone, I used CAMCARD to take a picture of business cards to upload the data. CamCard works some of the time, but not what I really want. I have to then update my contacts manually to takes “wasted” time as the two systems are NOT Synced with the same data fields, etc. I have a BIG notebook full of business cards. What I want is a DIGITAL “roll-a-dex” with an EXACT picture of the business card which can be linked to my contacts in Outlook and then have the data sorted by a person’s details, such as first name, last name, city, country, zip code, company name, last contact and a multitude of other customized detail. I want my phone to synchronize with my computer. I want my data to download to an Excel file where I can make reports, do pivot tables, etc.

    Excel is great and is very simple. However, it is limited. I have used a relative data base system call Alpha Five. This program is excellent for handling very large data bases. It allows customs reports to made. I tried to learn it, but I ended up having to get outside help. I use to be an avid COBOL programmer, but I stopped programming many years ago.

    I use an Excel file to keep track of all of my appointments. I want to look back and see who I met with and when and what was discussed and ESPECIALLY keep track of future meetings.

    Date of confirmed meeting date, time of meeting, date of meeting (saved), name of company, person’s name, note, etc,

    In summary, I am looking for something SIMPLE that links my contacts, my business cards to go in and out of Excel to correct data and upload using Microsoft Outlook. Microsoft now owns Linkedin and Skype. Both of these programs I use.

    The contact data is ONLY valuable if it is kept up to-date and corrected as needed. It needs to updated one time and only one time.

    Any comments to improve storing, updating, tracking, linking contacts will be most appreciated. Sincerely and thank you. John

    1. John — WOW! Thank you so much for taking time to provide such a thoughtful and thorough response. It is so helpful to me and will be to our entire CLC Community. Great idea to use Excel to keep a history of your appointments. If you discover that very simple program that does it all, please let me know! I will, of course, do the same. Happy Networking!

  2. Alana,

    I take a very simple approach on this topic. My entire list is contacted every day – 3 at a time. The order may change from time to time, depending on circumstances, birthdays, particlular topics, etc. The form is usually an email or a call. Most times, its, “Hello, how are you, how’s the Family” – but they hear from me.

    Important to Always Be Connected.

    Regards, Ron

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