I recently gave this advice to two new-ish designers, so I thought I’d share it here. Something I wish I had done from day one of my freelancing career (before Eric Miller Design became a full-time studio) was keep a very organized address book. This should include contact details, of course, but more importantly a few notes on each person such as where and how you met them and what their specialties are. It is also helpful to organize people in groups, which we just do at EMD with Mac Address Book.
Quite a simple concept, really, but in 15 years you likely won’t remember Joe from Bob that you met at that thing that day.
I worked at BMI for 9 years, and during this time I met musicians, music industry execs, writers, designers, attorneys, photographers… you name it. Many of these people could be potential clients, partners or at least on my email mailing list to help spread the word of our work. Unfortunately, I don’t have most of their names, let alone their contact info and more.
This advice is for anyone, but especially for freelancers just starting out. Develop a system of your own, collect business cards and keep that contact list up-to-date and complete.