define a networking campaign
a database or briefing people on what information to collect, the
purpose of the networking needs to be understood. Is an organization
looking to recruit new members, trying to identify funding sources
or looking for specific technical information needed for a project?
At this point it should also be decided what, if anything, will
be done about follow up. If someone requested more information,
copies of brochures to place in their stores or further discussions,
a system needs to be set up that will ensure that happens. This
is vital for establishing credibility.
lists and more lists
the effort, pull together lists of people, organizations and programs
that may be useful to your organization or project. These lists
should be centrally stored so that they can be retrieved and easily
used by many people in the organization.
the database and appoint keepers
are made with those on the lists, enter the information into a database
(see example fields listed above). Be sure the information is accurate
and contains addresses, titles, telephone numbers and email addresses
for each name.
It may also
be useful to have a data field that states the kind of networking
possibilities that each person or organization represents, e.g.,
funding, technical information or member. If standard categories
are created and denoted with special codes, the database can be
sorted by those codes when the need arises. This makes the database
an even more powerful and useful tool.
Train two or
three individuals in the use of the database system. Never rely
upon just one person. It is also imperative to regularly make a
backup copy: daily if there is a lot of information being entered;
weekly or biweekly if there is less information.
4. Give members
It is vital
that everyone is constantly adding to, updating and refining the
networking database. That means you need to give people a means
to input information: give them an electronic copy of the database
file to use on their home computers or printout the form with its
fields for handwritten reports. Most likely both methods will be
used depending upon peopleís access to computers. If necessary,
set a schedule for members to turn in their contact information
so that it all can be added to the central database.
One of the keys
to a strong database is the constant addition of contacts. Remind
people of the golden rule of networking: When you meet someone,
ask for the names of any friends, family, associates, neighbors,
classmates or other organizations that they know about that might
also be interested in or in some way be beneficial to the mission
of your organization or project.