I brought a vendor to a meeting with a client once, and never brought him back again.

It wasn’t that he didn’t know what he was doing. He did. And it wasn’t because he didn’t deliver what he promised. He did that too.

But throughout 40 minutes of valuable background information and direction on the project we were starting, the vendor didn’t take a single note. He didn’t even have a notepad with him.

I know the client well enough to interpret the look in his eye a couple times during that meeting:

“Dude, aren’t you going to write any of this down?”

The fact that the vendor was able to retain that detail in his head and get it all right afterward wasn’t the point. The customer wanted to ensure he was being heard. And the easiest way to show that is to take notes.

It may be somewhat superficial and maybe a bit irrational, but it matters. When you’re taking notes, it looks like you’re listening. It shows the speaker that what he or she is saying matters, and will be both retained and acted upon.

This goes for customers, prospects, even advisors. If someone is taking the time to provide feedback on something you’re working on, at least take notes while they’re speaking.

I myself am partial to note-taking with pen and paper. Some prefer their tablet or laptop. I think this is fine, as long as you make it clear to the prospect or client that you’ll be taking notes (and not checking your email).

Notes help you remember key points. They help you capture primary action items (for yourself and others). They help you capture random, non-related ideas and tasks that pop into your head at the wrong time (don’t tell me you haven’t jotted down a partial grocery list while in an important meeting).

But perhaps more importantly, note-taking makes you look good to the client or prospect.

Dude, write it down.