If You Don't Write it Down, It Never Happened

If you're spending time networking then you owe it to yourself to take notes about who you meet and what you discuss.

By now, everyone has heard that a professional network is important for lots of different reasons and, in the hopes of developing that network, lots of people go through the motions of "networking": They go to events, meet new people, collect business cards, etc.

This effort is great but, in my opinion, it's worthwhile only if you take the time afterwards to make notes about who you met, what you discussed, what they were working on, who they were keen to meet, which industries they're fascinated by, etc.

The notes are for yourself don't have to be pristine and perfect. They just have to be enough to jog your memory so that the next time you encounter that person the relationship won't be starting from square one. Taking notes consistently takes effort and the reward for the effort is uncertain but I like to think of this effort as being similar to saving a small amount of your pay check each month. It's painful in the short-run but the returns in the long-run can sustain you.

Some might argue that there's something overly calculating about taking notes on casual conversations, that systematizing relationships renders them inauthentic. I disagree for a couple reasons. First, knowing that you're going to take notes gives you a reason to ask thoughtful questions. Second, knowing that you're going to take notes forces you to be a better and more attentive listener. Third, being able to build off of previous conversations is key to developing authentic relationships and this is impossible without some sort of written record.

Next week I'll talk a bit about my notetaking methods.