Small Business Articles from Make-it-Fly®
Golden Rule of Networking:
Stay in Touch with Your
By Dave Block and Victoria Munro
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
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
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
© 2005-2007 Victoria Munro.
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..
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