In a few words: A magical mix of tech, automation and your personal HUMAN touch. Here are the basics and a few less-well known tips to guide you towards the most efficient and effective way to stay in touch with the people that matter most to you, and to your business.
1) Choose the right platform for your needs
There are quite a number of contact management services ranging from address books on email clients like Gmail and Outlook, to mobile/desktop platforms like Cobook or Brewster, to lightweight CRMs like Insight.ly or HighRise to full-fledged CRMs such as Salesforce, Zoho and Dynamics etc. For a great explication of the difference between contact management and CRM (contact relationship management), refer to this article on CRM Search.
For some, social networks like Facebook/Google+ might even be enough, but for the professionally-oriented even Linkedin isn’t yet diverse enough to cover many of your contact management needs.
Key features you’ll want:
a) A centralized homebase in the cloud which means that your data is secure (and easy to import/export from as well)
b) 2-way Sync to mobile/desktop
c) Handles duplicates
d) Social Integration
Our 2 cents: Google Contacts does exceptionally well on all of these 4 points, especially as Google+ gains ground and more social profiles are available directly within Google Contacts from Google+. Bonus: Rapportive on gmail also brings in great social data. Outlook and Exchange handle most of these well too, though slightly more expensive and slightly less user-friendly.
2) Make sure that your AND their contact information is up to date and accurate
Nothing worse than having out-of-date contact info, or searching and not finding someone’s phone number. This is where WriteThat.name can really help as it analyzes emails for email signatures to create and update your contacts in gmail, outlook, salesforce, highrise. You can even reach back into the past and update all of the contacts you never had the chance to with a flashback. Get started by clicking on any of those services that interest you.
That being said, communication is a 2-way street, so AddMe is a great way to make sure that YOUR contacts have YOUR up-to-date information. Add your AddMe link to your signature (or add it anywhere on the web) and anyone can click on it to update your contact info in their address book. Get started with AddMe here.
3) Group or segment your contacts
This is something you can do with Gmail’s labels or Outlook’s groups, and that way when you want to contact your a) family b) certain group of friends 3) folks who provide business advice 4) certain segment of customers 5) leads etc, you can click on one group instead of individually selecting them each time.
If you’re using a CRM, many of our WriteThat.name clients are raving about Pipedrive which segments your users into different stages of the sale process.
Also, Google+ now makes your circles visible within Google Contacts so that might be an efficient way for you to organize your contacs, or you can create labels as well (family, friends, tech, fun, purveyors, clients etc).
4) Reach out at the right time
a) When your contact is in the news, the app Newsle, will notify you. Connect with linkedin, facebook or twitter and congratulate, or interact with them when they’re riding high.
b) The new Linkedin Contacts will provide notifications when someone has a new job, or it’s their birthday, and you can drop them a line then.
c) If you’re marketing your service, you should definitely have a drip-mail campaign in the works when someone signs up or provides their email for more info. You can automate this well with mailchimp or customer.io or a plethora of tools on CRMs like salesforce/highrise. If you’re working on gmail/outlook, then follow up with someone when you send them an email by setting reminders with Boomerang (one of my fav apps).
5) Above all, be Genuine
We’re living in an age where it’s never been easier to try to get someone’s attention, and never harder to actually get it for that same reason. Be interesting. Be different. Be fun. Try and see what engages your contacts more, and continue to try something new, but behind all of that, be real. Drop the fake, drop the sell, drop the “my needs” and find out what is valuable to your contact and help them find that.
Be someone that people want to hear from again and again— manage your reputation, not your client as so aptly put in this wired article by Mike Muhney, co-founder of ACT! CRM.