How did it all start for me?
Over the years, I have trialled numerous apps and systems, but I started with a plain spreadsheet about 8 years ago. Back then I was doing a lot of face-to-face networking and had a horrendous memory (which I still have), I struggled to remember people’s names and faces. It didn’t help that I was memorable for others, but not another way around. Let’s face it, I have a funny accent which is very hard to place and there are not many people with my name around West Midlands.
I value the whole networking culture highly and want to make sure that other people around me feel important. I’m genuinely interested in their business and especially in their ‘why’s’ (you know the question – Why do you do what you do?). And if the person shares something personal about themselves and what they value, I want to remember that. I want to make sure that the next time I see them, we don’t need to have the entire conversation all over.
Now coming back to my ‘chicken memory’ – this has been a huge task for me and physically impossible. So what I did – I started adding the information into a spreadsheet after the event. I still have some leftovers of that very first file which I did and some comments are quite frankly, hilarious. But these notes were meant for me and for me only. Usually, prior to the networking event, I received a delegates list, which allowed me to prepare and remember those men with brown shoes and colourful socks, ladies with quirky jewellery etc. But most importantly, I could trace back to when did I first meet them as I had this information stored as well.
Then I started adding information with summaries of the conversations that I had with the contacts and what did we agree on. From that, I moved into colour coding and started marking down how hot or cold that specific contact was. I created quite specific custom columns and at one point I reached ‘a critical mass’. I was scrolling too much back and forth and filtering information got just way too complicated. This was the moment when I started searching for a CRM app.
A story to learn from
Recently I had a 121 meeting with a contact who I actually met a few years ago. Naturally, I added all contact details to my CRM as a new contact, without checking if I have any previous records.
When we started our meeting, the first thing they said to me was: ‘We have met already and I even passed you a referral….’ And I’m looking at them with a completely blank face, however, I started slowly feeling my entire face going red with embarrassment, as I genuinely didn’t recall them.
Luckily, we made a joke about this all and the entire meeting felt a bit less formal after the first 5 minutes of me visibly sweating…
I pride myself on keeping meticulous notes and my CRM fully updated with all relevant information, however, things happen and sometimes information gets missed.
For the ones reading this and who have an amazing memory, I envy you! But for the ones who have similar memory to mine – the message is simple – keep your database current and add as much detail about your contacts as possible. You will never know what kind of connection you will make and what information you need.