Monday, April 20, 2009

The badge-holder method for keeping track of conference contacts

One of the primary reasons cited for going to conferences is that they are great places for professionals to network. You can meet new people with similar interests, and those people can be valuable contacts in your field. This is particularly the case in academia, where contacts are important for collaboration and research.

The only problem with this system, is that it sometimes can be difficult to manage. If you’re like me and have a problem with names, it can be difficult to find a person’s contact info when all you can remember is what they looked like and what they study. I used to come home from conferences, take out all the business cards I collected, and studiously enter them into my address book one-by-one, adding keywords--like the name of the conference or what the person studies--to make it easier to find them later.

But then I found a better way. Now, whenever I get someone’s business card, I immediately write on the back of the card why the owner and I traded cards--if I was supposed to send them information about a presentation, for example, or plan to meet them for coffee--and then I stick the card in the pouch holding my conference badge. I then keep my badges in my office (see the photo) and I instantly have a filing system keeping track of my conference contacts by conference with notes about each individual.

Of course this system is limited. I can only access it at home, and eventually I’m going to run out of doorknob space and will need to find a new place to keep them. But despite these limitations this system has so far worked surprisingly well. If I need to contact someone, all I need to do is remember the conference I met them at, then access my filing system to find their info.


Anonymous said...

Good ideas! I ended up placing my contacts in a file system, where the name of the conference is the label, and all that useless crap obtained from endless booths, and/or biz cards that include details about a person or topics discussed during mindless chit chat sessions, are all combined. The most recent pic of the person. The last one might have to be dropped, too many want a pic of me in return. Call me blonde, but i'm pretty sure it's not for a filing system :) Anyway, great article and ideas

John Jones said...

Evernote might be a good system for keeping track of all this data—card info, conversation notes, pictures—in one place. You could upload and tag everything, and not have to worry about "filing" it. :)