Mackay’s (Borrowed) Maxim: “The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his life and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him, he’s always doing both.”
– James Michener
Basic contact information is helpful when tracking your network, but it’s not all you need. You need more of a personal touch when networking to effectively connect with your contacts. Without that connection, the people in your network will have a much lower chance of remembering you, which makes it difficult to make the most of your network.
The key to remembering everything you need about your network lies in tracking your members, so it’s important to have the right information on file. While you’ll start with your contacts’ names, keeping network-builder cards will be essential to an effective network. Once you’ve compiled the initial list of everyone in your network, be sure to include these essential pieces of information:
- Date – The date you last met with the person in your network will be one of the most updated pieces of information. It also serves as a reminder to check in with someone and make sure the information you have is up to date.
- Phone/Fax/Email/Internet Contacts – Having a phone number may seem good enough, but you want to have the contact information the person is most likely to answer so you can always reach them.
- Title and Company – Keep track of the contact’s title and position at work, and congratulate them when they receive a promotion. You’ll also want to note the company for which someone works, especially for your business contacts.
- Address – Sending a short note or card whenever someone moves homes or to a new office is a great way to keep in touch and show you’re organized.
- Birthdate and Place – Remembering someone’s birthday is a great way to make an impression, but many other people keep track of birthdays. Note someone’s birthplace and hometown to help make it a more personal connection.
- Connections – Note when you met someone and what events you attended together to help jog your memory if it’s been some time since you last saw that person.
- Family – You’ll want to keep track of your contacts’ family to help with conversation, but you should also be careful: You don’t want to ask about someone’s spouse to discover they’re divorced.
- Education and Affiliations – Note someone’s membership in professional organizations, churches, clubs, and political groups. Many people are proud of their education, so write down their school, as well.
- Special Interests – People love to talk about their special interests. Even if you’ve mentioned it somewhere else, put it on its own line for easy access.
- Accomplishments – Don’t stop at tracking promotions. If someone’s earned an award, published a work, or any other accomplishment, note it down.
People appreciate it when you remember the little details about their lives. While you’ll ultimately learn more about some people in your network than others, you should do your best to keep track of these core details. Start by writing down everything you know, and then update the information often as necessary.
Even if you never strike a large deal or get a big favor from the person, showing you care will help brighten their day, which is valuable enough payoff on its own.