NRG Newsletter - Synergy 2 April 2008
Something I do when I’m not writing entrancing articles such as this, and the more mundane copy writing I spend most of my time slaving over, is training. And a little something I’ve added to the end of each of my training sessions nowadays is to ask my delegates to write down exactly what they’re going to change as a result of what I’ve taught them, and then to put this into a self addressed envelope for me to post back to them in a week or two’s time.
Because I know, and you know, that the minute they leave that training session their mobile is going to ring and before you can say “Mine’s a large one” they’re back in their own world and everything they promised themselves to change is forgotten. And may I say that this is less of a reflection on my training abilities than on the pressure and pace of our working lives.
A Pocket Full of Cards
I mention all this by way of an introduction to the fact that most of us act in much the same when we leave a networking event. We get back to the office, our pockets bulging with the business cards we have worked so hard to gather, we’re greeted by the telephone ringing in an urgent way, and the next time those business cards see the light of day is when that suit is being cleared for the cleaners. How often have you picked up a card collected at some event weeks ago, looked at it blankly, and then binned it because you can’t even remember who gave it to you? And yet, how often was the conversation that lead to that exchange of cards a great idea at the time? I’m convinced that there’s far more business lying in the bottom of bins than ever ends up in an invoice, which is a shame, and, of course, a huge waste of valuable time and perhaps even credibility.
So, two or three things here: firstly, never let the sun set on your networking day without taking the time to sort through the cards you’ve been given, and making notes about the people and the conversations you’ve had. I’m looking at some old notes as I write, and I see that my first comment concerning someone who has since become a good chum was, ’tall, dark hair, friendly, pink shirt…wife Cathy, 2 kids, likes dogs, BMW bike. Needs help with new brochure. Ring next week’ Oddly enough, even now this short aide memoire brings back a picture of that first meeting. Anyway the point is that unless you have exceptional recall, that’s the sort of note I suggest you make, something to help you picture the person, something about them for your next conversation, and a call to action.
Secondly, buy a card reader. I used to have box loads of cards beside my desk, now I have a small device on my desk which I feed cards into and which, miraculously reads them and adds all the relevant contact information to my computer address book. I think mine cost about £100, but if you’re wise and use Macs, make sure the one you buy is compatible. It makes life so much easier.
Thirdly and most importantly…if you’ve said that you’ll ring in a couple of day’s time to fix up a meeting, for goodness sake do it. After all, that’s what this whole networking exercise has been building up to, the opportunity to meet and potentially discuss business with someone who’s hopefully looking forward to meeting you just as much as you are them. It may seem a painfully obvious point, but it’s extraordinary how some people will put off or forget that follow up call for a couple of days, which becomes a week, and then stretches until they’re too embarrassed to ring at all. Which reminds me, I’d better go and ring that nice chap I met at NRGyesterday…