Information is only valuable when it’s curated. This is especially true when you network. When information is efficiently organized you’ll be prepared to take advantage of the small allocation of spontaneous serendipity we are all given.
I’ve been using Evernote for about 6 months now and find it enormously helpful for managing my networking. Evernote is an app that enables you to write notes on your phone, tablet or desktop and have them sync to all your devices. You don’t have to have a 3G or wireless connection to create or read notes which means you don’t have to have a smartphone. All of this makes Evernote fantastic for networking. Here’s why.
Preparing for meeting a professional contact–either for the first or fourth time–is a challenge. You want to make sure you have a purpose in talking with them, that you don’t ask redundant questions, that you share relevant information, and ask how you can help them. It’s a lot to keep track of.
I find that it gets easier to track my thoughts, questions, and contact history if I take detailed notes after each interaction as well as whenever a new ideas comes to me. Evernote’s ubiquity makes this easy.
Organizing Your Notes
Evernote allows you to create unlimited notebooks with unlimited notes. You could name one notebook “Networking Meetings” and another “Career Inspiration”. It’s not especially important which bucket you put the information into so long as you do. The app’s search function makes it unnecessary to keep all the notes involving each person in the same notebook, but for speed I recommend creating and sticking with a naming convention for each type of note.
I title each meeting note: “Person’s First and Last Name | Date”. Sometimes I add on to the end any keywords relevant to the conversation that I want quick access to.
In the body of the note I have a standard set of headers:
- Reason for Meeting
- What They Shared
- What I Shared
- Next Steps for Me
Each of these headers are bolded so I can quickly scan notes in the future. Take a few minutes immediately after each meeting to fill in this information. It’s too easy to forget the small details. I fill this out every time I meet with someone.
In Evernote you can also voice record notes, do real time voice-to-text, take a picture and attach it into a note, and attach all kinds of documents. These attachments could be things you want to share with a contact or things that will remind you of ideas you had. I strongly recommend that everyone, either happily employed or looking for a new position, find some way to organize and access their networking information any time they need it. Evernote is an easy way to start.