Through my 13 years of speaking, God has graciously blessed me with the opportunity to speak to thousands of women–and even a few men–across the country. In my heart and mind, I consider each of them my friends. After all, we likely prayed together, worshiped together, ate together, and broke His Bread together.

But the sad truth is, I’ve been in touch with only a few of those thousands of people. Not because I don’t want to, but because I didn’t have a clue how to reach them. Oh, I’d collected business cards and written phone numbers on napkins and kept envelopes with return addresses. I’d even collected page after page of sign-up sheets from those who wanted to hear from me. But where were they when I needed them? Scattered in various computer files, to-do stacks, and cardboard boxes.

In my life and ministry, I’ve had to learn many things the hard way, and one of them is this: Develop a database system from the beginning. This includes a means for collecting data from those who hear your messages and a system for recording their information.

As I look back, I see that I did a fairly good job of collecting data, but my downfall was in what I did with it after I got home.

Fast forward to 2011. This spring I finally gathered all those business cards, crumpled napkins and used envelopes and turned them over to my organized friend, Dianne. For weeks (or maybe months–I can’t remember) Diane entered data, created files, and organized the over 2500 contacts into an Excel spreadsheet and a super-duper-sized storage bin, complete with notebooks of business cards and correspondence.

And I paid a pretty penny for it.

Please understand, I don’t regret paying Dianne one penny of that money–she deserved twice what she got! But the point is, if only I had developed a system from the beginning and then worked the system after each event, I could have avoided spending all that time, trouble, and money.

And even more important, I would have been able to connect with my new friend when I visited her area for another event. Perhaps we could have laughed over a cup of coffee and prayed together. I might have had the joy of meeting her family and friends.

And maybe my proximity would have allowed me to speak to her group again.

Whether you’re just starting out or have been speaking for years, now is the time to be sure you have the means for collecting and following up with the new friends you’ll make along the way. Sign-up sheets and business cards are great ways to start. But it’s what you do when you get them home that matters.

God’s Word tells us to be orderly in our business and ministry dealings. Having an organized database is a great place to start.

The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.
Proverbs 21:5

Grace and peace,