There was a big scare at the conference center today; a rumor started that the bar ran out of alcohol and that the booze truck broke down 20 miles away. But it was just a rumor, the bar was fully stocked, and I got to spend the evening stepping over the future leaders of my company as usual.
During a class entitled Launching Your Career, the instructor had a very interesting technique she offered to help us keep in touch with all those people with whom we’ve been networking all week. Here’s her trick in four easy steps.
- Make sure you have business cards. If your company won’t pay for you to have your own business cards, spend the money to make your own. Or if you’re at the conference and the nearest business card manufacturer is 300 miles away, be sure to have plenty of index cards or small pieces of paper on which you can write your name, e-mail address, phone number, and position.
- Trade cards with your networkees. Once you connect to someone you’d like to stay in touch with in the months and years to follow, offer to exchange cards. If the other person doesn’t have a card, just get all that information from step one and make your own card for that person later.
- Organize your contacts. When you get home, add all your new contacts to your favorite contact organization tool. An e-mail address book works all right, but an old-fashioned rolodex will do even better in the last critical step.
- Establish a chronological system for keeping in touch. Add monthly dividers to your rolodex (January, February, etc.). Then split up your networkees between those months, and make a point to contact a new batch every month–maybe one a day or several each week. For especially important people, add their cards to more than one month so you talk with them more than just yearly.