Moderator Note (Andy): this was originally posted on 8/22/12
As much as it may be stated on this site, networking is one of the key factors in the success of most young professionals in finance. Whether it is gaining valuable advice, or getting a leg up in the hiring process, networking opens doors and knowledge that would otherwise be hard to find. As you meet contacts in finance and build your network, you will need to track and monitor your relationships with these individuals. It is important not to let a relationship die off, and it is also critical to remember certain key components of conversations of the past.
This may be easy to do with 10 contacts, but when you are over 100 and more, it will not be easy. Attached is a networking template which helps you determine when you need to reach out to contacts, and helps keep track of your database better than Linkedin.
My person contact list is broken up between “Senior Level”, “Junior Level”, “Coworkers”, “In College”, and “Family”. To me, it is important to differentiate your contact levels. For one, it is ideal to keep your senior to junior level contacts around 50/50 in order to maintain experienced mature employees whom may retire in the next 10-15 years, and those that will grow with you in your career for the rest of your life. I also break out current coworkers, because it is not important to remember the last time you caught up with them. Generally speaking, this should happen at work at some point. I have several contacts, who are still in college or are in my family (in finance careers), so I like to break those two groups out as well.
I created a column in the contact list to break out current company and previous employers. In case at some point in the future you have an interview for a particular company, it is beneficial to be able to track down any contacts you may have which would have an insider’s perspective to the company, or very well may be able to reference you to the people hiring.
You will notice in two of the columns, there is a differentiation between “Last contacted” and “Last in contact”. The difference between the two (and if you can come up with better header descriptions let me know) is last contacted is the date in which you wrote last, and last in contact is the last time they actually replied to you. Specifically for the senior level contacts, you may not always receive an email or phone call back write away, or at all.
My general rule of thumb for following up with contacts is to have at least spoken to them in the last 6 months. Some may want it shorter or longer, but that is the way I have it set up right now. The months since last contact column will turn red when the last contact is more than 6 months. This lets me know to email or call them soon.
I hope this helps set up a basic framework for each of your contact lists. Personally, this helps me make sure to stay on top of staying in touch with everyone I know. If anyone has any ideas on features which should be added, please share.