When writing a good contact report it is always good to write with someone else who might not have your perspective or knowledge in mind. Consider if you were a new employee in your position and you were reading an action report from your predecessor. What would be helpful for you? If you were reading a report from someone else on campus, what would be good to see included?
Action reports don’t have to be long. They just need to contain pertinent information that would be useful in moving the relationship forward. In general, it is always good to include the following:
Who made the contact?
If someone else is entering your contacts, it is always good to start off noting who initiated the action on behalf of the University.
What kind of contact? And if it was a meeting, where did it take place?
There will be a place for you to indicate what type of action – meeting, phone, email, etc. Again, it is not necessary to record every attempted call or every email, just those that you deem to be significant. If it was a meeting, making not of where you met may be helpful because it provides insight to where they are most comfortable in meeting or if they have been on campus.
What was the purpose of the contact?
Typically, if the contact is significant, there was a purpose for the action. Sharing what the purpose is provides others with an idea of what you are trying to accomplish.
What was accomplished during the contact?
This is the meat of the action. Information, questions, concerns, ideas shared by the person contacted are just as important, if not more so, than what you share on your visit.
What other information was gained during the contact?
This is ancillary information that may help someone else trying to reach out and engage with this company or individual. It may be something like: “they are a vegetarian,” or “the company is going public next month.” Both bits of information can be helpful for future contacts (again, think what you would like to know if you were just coming into your position).
What are the next steps?
You should have a long term objective in mind for your contacts. What are the next steps? Is there follow-up required?
An example of a good action report:
Kate Troelstra met with John at the City Café in Fayetteville for lunch to discuss the possibility of XYZ Company becoming a corporate partner. John is finishing up his tenth year with the company and has worked his way up from junior accountant to CFO. He has hired several Clayton State grads and feels that they are well-prepared for the workforce. He participates in the Career Fair every spring. John has a daughter who is a dual enrolled student and is thrilled with the courses she has taken so far. John indicated that he would be interested in becoming a corporate partner and asked if it was possible to join in January with the start of a new budget year. Kate agreed to follow-up in January regarding the membership and invited him to the Dean’s Breakfast so that he could meet other partners.
An example of a “not so good” action report:
I met with John and discussed becoming a corporate partner. He has hired some of our graduates.
What NOT to include in an action report
Anything that you would not want the contact to read about him/herself. While the intention is not to share this report with the individual, this is a good regulator for when you’re writing your action report. You never know when someone will read it who might be a dear friend, relative or former colleague. Don’t make judgments, disparage, or be critical of someone. Stick to the facts.