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Victoria Munro and Dave Block of Make-it-FlyThe Golden Rule of Networking:
Stay in Touch with Your Contacts
By Dave Block and Victoria Munro

Printable version

You’ve attended networking events, met some people whom you could help, who could perhaps help you and whom you’d like to get to know further – what's next? What are you doing with all those business cards you’ve collected? Are they waiting in piles on your desk for that day when you’ll have the time and motivation to do something useful with them? Are you tracking and following up on your contacts as effectively as you could be? You may be allowing potential sales to slip through the cracks!

Keeping in touch with and nurturing your contacts is a critical aspect of effective networking. Take the initiative to stay in touch. Remember: each meeting, each note, each email or phone call becomes an opportunity to strengthen the relationship, enhance your visibility and better position yourself to help others. Develop an easy-to-use system to follow up and track these relationships.

Choosing the Best Method to Record and Track Your Contacts

The Rolodex® has been useful over the years for names and phone numbers. Those "tickler" files also had their place when it came to customer follow-up, but anyone running a business today has access to powerful new tools – software designed to track contacts, turn them into clients and to manage customer relationships. Marketing experts assure us that the cost of keeping in touch with and developing current clients is a fraction of what it costs to acquire new clients.

A variety of software applications commonly known as Customer Relations Management or CRM offer an integrated approach to acquiring and retaining customers. They enable business owners to maximize the value of every contact or customer interaction in an organized and often automated way with relative ease.

CRMs are time efficient and needn’t be expensive. Among the more popular applications currently used by small business owners are: ACT!®, Goldmine® and Maximizer™. Downloadable freeware products are also available on the Web. Or you can create your own spreadsheet to manage contacts. If you work with other sales people, a web-based contact management system may be your best choice. An increasing number of companies now offer this service at reasonable prices.

Do Your Homework

Determine which system will work best for you and your business. Check out what the various CRM software packages have to offer, their advantages, limitations and price. Talk with friends and colleagues to find out what they recommend. Ask if they use a particular CRM and how effective they have found the product to be. How easy or complicated is it to use? What are the benefits and disadvantages they’ve discovered?

Tools are available to help you manage your time, track your calls, schedule meetings and “to do’s,” forecast and sales. This information can also be integrated with your PDA or Palm®, synchronized and shared with others.

There are a myriad of choices to explore. An amazing array of tools is available to help you save time, become more efficient and effective as you keep in touch with your contacts. Many of these software packages are relatively user-friendly. However, if you find the prospect of learning yet more new software to be daunting, trainers or specialists are available. Investing the necessary time and money to hire someone to help you set up a system that will work well for your business and train you to use it effectively can yield tremendous results.

Whichever system you select, be sure to put plans in place to regularly back up your valuable list. It’s your goldmine that can take years to build but can disappear in a flash if not properly protected.

Your networking database is pure gold, so make a commitment to keep connected with your networking contacts.

(611 words)
© 2005-2007 Victoria Munro.

Click here for printable version.

About the Authors: Dave Block and Victoria Munro are co-founders of Make-it-Fly® LLC, a company dedicated to creating success for small business owners through creatively-designed programs and tools. Dave is known as the “Master Networker” in the business community and loves sharing how to become a successful business owner by learning the art of networking. Victoria has started and run nine different businesses.. To receive FREE business success articles with tips to help you with your business, sign up for their award-winning ezine, “In-Flight Refueling,” at:, and receive a free copy of the eBook, Get More Done in Less Time: 101 Quick and Easy Time Tactics & Tips.

You’re welcome to “reprint” this article in your ezine, print publication or on your website, as long as it remains complete and unaltered (including the “about the author” info at the end). Please send a copy of your reprint to

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