My Biggest Mistake: I failed to keep contacts

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The Independent Online
Adrian Martin became managing partner at BDO Stoy Hayward in 1992. He joined the firm as a trainee after leaving Haileybury College, and became a partner in 1977.

THE MISTAKE I most regret was years ago, when I was a young chartered accountant. I heard the senior partner at Richard Ellis, who was the president of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors,talking about the value of contacts.

He made a note every day of whom he had met and in what circumstances. He was able to refer to that many times, and it was a powerful tool.

At the time, it struck me as wise and sensible. But you always say you are too busy. I never did it, and I have always regretted it, because I have met thousands of people and there have been many occasions I have thought, "Who was that chap I met and where did I meet him?"

That has made me more comfortable about making a substantial investment in relationship management software. Rather than just one person having their own Rolodex, everybody will be able to understand each of our individual business relationships.

It's the type of thing banks are supposed to have: when you phone them, they should have all the information about you at their fingertips. Our sophisticated version tells you about the last time anybody in the organisation was in touch with that individual, and why. It's shared knowledge about relationships.