Use This Tool To Take Your Career To The Next Level
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Use This Tool To Take Your Career To The Next Level

by Sarah Pike
Photos Nicole Vaughn | September 21, 2015

SOMETIMES THE BEST WAY TO NETWORK IS TO JUST DIVE IN. BUT IF YOU NEED SOME HELP KEEPING MOMENTUM (AND WE ALL DO), CONSIDER THE NETWORKING TRACKER YOUR GAME-CHANGER. 

Networking is a key part of professional success. Even in a world that’s become so much smaller thanks to the Internet, it’s still all about who you know. From rubbing shoulders with MVPs in your industry to meeting people who may become future employers or clients, it’s those face-to-face interactions that make all the difference.

You may be a networking wizard, but if you don’t have a solid system for organizing and tracking your networking efforts in place, then it’s all for naught. It doesn’t do you any good to run into the owner of your dream company if you can’t locate their contact information to follow up with them in a timely manner.

The best way to ensure the contacts you make turn into opportunities is by using a networking tracker to store contact information and log interactions.

Likewise, you may as well have never gone to a networking event if the people in your network only hear from you when you need something. If they don’t feel like they have an authentic, reciprocal relationship with you, they won’t be rushing to your aid when you ask for help.

The best way to ensure the contacts you make turn into opportunities is by using a networking tracker to store contact information and log interactions. Here are some easy-to-follow guidelines to help you implement a networking tracking system that yields results.

ORGANIZING OPTIONS

Not long ago, smart networkers tracked their contacts and follow-up on physical cards, usually kept in a Rolodex. Another popular strategy was to keep an album or file of business cards. These can still be useful methods, but it’s much more convenient to use an electronic tracker. Microsoft Excel software offers one of the simplest ways to get your contacts organized.

There are plenty of networking trackers and templates available to download, but the great thing about creating your own Excel spreadsheet is that you can customize it to meet your unique needs.

Set up a spreadsheet or utilize an online template to get started. {Click to Tweet} Create columns to store contact information including names, phone numbers, email addresses, where you met the contact, professional titles, place of employment, and purpose. Having this kind of information will make your networking life so much easier.

SYSTEMATICALLY SCHEDULE

Keep the tracker updated and add information every time you interact with one of the contacts on your list. Try to include specifics about your conversation to add depth to future interactions. If appropriate, you can add personal information like birthdays and work anniversaries, which are great reasons to send a note or an email.

The tracker is also a great way to schedule regular touch points for follow-up. Designate different contacts for different levels of interaction. {Click to Tweet}  Use numbers, colors, or letters to indicate those you want to touch base with once a week, once a month, or once a quarter. Then set reminders on your calendar so that you don’t miss a scheduled touch point.

REACH OUT AND TOUCH SOMEONE

Once you are organized and have a schedule in place for making contact, it’s time for action. Make sure your efforts are meaningful and make a positive impression. This is a chance for you to build a rapport and to establish yourself as a valuable resource.

Send out links to articles you’ve found to be inspiring or thought-provoking. This kind of information can be a great launching pad for follow-up conversations, but it only works if you do it strategically. Include a thoughtful introduction that highlights why this article grabbed your attention and what drove you to share it.

Try to avoid sending anything out as an email blast to all of your contacts. That defeats the purpose of building a solid, individual relationship. And refrain from sending out every awesome article you come across. By picking and choosing what to send and to whom, your messages will become valuable to the recipient.

Another great way to connect is by recommending a book that’s helped you with your professional growth and development. Include a brief synopsis and a short example of how the message of the book made a profound impact on you. Share a specific passage, if possible.

If you’re feeling adventurous, go beyond an email and organize your own networking event. You can arrange a casual get-together for key members of your network.

If you’re feeling adventurous, go beyond an email and organize your own networking event. You can arrange a casual get-together for key members of your network. This is a great way to say thank you for help you’ve received or to simply acknowledge how much you value these relationships.

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What superstar networking trick are you trying first? Keep us posted in the comments.