I was reminded recently at a sales training/business development session that is critical for CPAs and marketers to keep accurate notes regarding networking initiatives. Whether your firm utilizes a sophisticated CRM program or you are working with a simple Excel spread sheet to capture your activities, it doesn't matter. The platform you use is less critical than the data you are gathering!
It is important that you become disciplined in the process of following up with the relationships you are building during your networking activities. It is important, first, that you select the most relevant activities to participate in - that you position yourself to be present in places where you can add value and at the same time where you can make valuable contacts.
Second, it is as critical that you maintain accurate records regarding who you are contacting, how often you are connecting, what their key issues are, what impact you may have and how you can develop the contact from a "cold or lukewarm" connection into a really meaningful relationship that may - in the short or long term - lead to new business or a new referral.
I learned a long time ago that you cannot rely on your memory alone! If you are going to create a systematic, consistent procedure for outreach and networking - you will need to manage the details in some type of format that you can refer to as needed.
With summer ending, the Fall offers a prime opportunity for renewing old ties and starting new ones - so I suggest you select a few organizations or trade associations where you can have an impact, and "go get 'em!"
Let us know how you are tracking your relationships and leads!