I ran across a post with 5 Tips for more Powerful Professional Networking. It's got some good advice, but perhaps it's a bit more structured than I'd like. I think networking is important, but if you work too hard at it, if it becomes a job, then I think it's not as much networking as it is cheesy salesmanship.
Here are a few takes on those tips:
I don't do this a lot. I do think it's important to segregate out some contacts that you might want to ping separately. For example, I have a tight group of contacts I know I can count on. That's a small group, my "A" group. However I decided that maintaining a "B" group and a "C" group wasn't worth it for me. If I'm reaching widely for help, like a job, then I'm not sure I would differentiate groups. It's only the "A" group that I'd really want to contact separately.
If you might try to contact some people separately, for example, a set of people in an industry, then separate them out. However otherwise, I think for most of us that aren't salespeople, we don't need to worry about this.
I might be wrong, but that's how I see it.
I do think it helps to be able to make small talk with people, to connect with them a bit in order to build a better bond and relationship. This improves your network.
However this doesn't need to be outside of your industry. I certainly "talk shop" with plenty of contacts, and those are just as interesting conversations as the ones I have about sports.
Refresh Your Memory
It's always good to know something about someone, even friends, when you see them. If you can't remember anything about someone, it's awkward if they remember you.
I do try to remind myself who someone is when I meet them again, if I know I am. I don't do this at large events, but I certainly look up notes, emails, or even a Google search on some people that are in meetings, but that I am not sure how I know them. It's a nice way to do a little prep.
However, if I don't have time, I don't worry about it. However, I certainly have googled at an event when I've met them, but I can't recall details.
I do this now, and you should as well. Far, far too easy to lose cards. If for no other reason, take a picture of cards with your phone as soon as you can. If you can get those into LinkedIn or somewhere else, that's fine as well.
If you need to make a note about someone, write it on the card and then take a picture.
Use LinkedIn Smarter
No comment. I'm sure I could do something better here. I haven't had time, or the need, to dig into LinkedIn more.