My most common career coaching topic lately has been making and strengthening strategic connections. Clients come to me for an abundance of reasons, but nearly everyone has in common the need to refine or start from scratch a strategic connections list.
I have been using for years a MS Word file to track my strategic connections. It was time to look for something to save me time and make managing connections fun for me and my clients. I set out to look at the offerings out there.
Wow, there are some robust programs, online services created for sales forces that have bells and whistles that made my eyes spin, some even break down connections into demographics, create invoices and manage projects. Sounds cool, but way more than what I needed.
I wanted an online service to track my activities and social media for my connections all in one place making it easy to keep on top of the ongoings in their lives. In the past, in Twitter I created a list called strategic connections that I scan for tweets I can repost or updates in their lives; in Facebook I have a list of ‘friends‘ just for strategic contacts and I bookmark the status updates for this list so I can look them over to keep updated and comment.
These are all actions I recommend to clients and have worked in the past to keep abreast of my strategic connections ongoings in social media. I have to admit, it is getting cumbersome and was crossing my fingers there was a more efficient way of accomplishing my goals.
Good news – I found some easy, exciting options and even better their cost – free! Before unveiling my three discovering, please know that there have to be more out there. That is the beauty of the Internet, tons of competition, tons of options. I want to hear from you, what you have used and what works. Please share in the comments your findings and experiences.
Here are some features these programs have:
a. review people I am meeting with that week – I am name challenged, really wish I could remember names, but it always has been a struggle for me. It would be a big help for me to review over connections and the latest ongoings in my connections’ lives before a meeting.
b. see what is going on with someone before I email them – the ideal is to include a congratulations or question about something going on in their life in an email to get to know them better. All these programs allow me to add in my own notes to a profile and view their latest social media imprints in once place.
c. view when you last communicated or connected with someone – it is key for me to keep in regular contact with strategic connections. Some programs keep a log running of email and calendar encounters with your connections. This way the program tracks my contacts made instead of me. Huge time savings for me.
d. prioritize connections – this is not about who is more important but instead, who do I need to keep on top of (answer: strategic connections). Some programs allow me to indicate higher priority to connections and view them first on my dashboard. I start my day looking at the latest ongoings for my strategic updates, no clicking between Hootsuite and Facebook to do this, it is all in one place. This is much more efficient.
Drum roll: the three programs I recommend you look into for managing your connections are:
Rapportive – Rapportive works with gmail (browser add-on), the program is funded by the creators of gmail (but is not official gmail program). Thus, there is the one catch, must have gmail account. If you want something simple, intuitive, and works with what you already do – email, start here. It shows you everything about your email contacts right inside your gmail inbox. So when you start to compose an email and finish inserting the person’s emaila ddress, on the right of your screen you will see their photo and all their latest social media updates.
Activities from above list program accomplishes: b
Gist – Gist is its own program, an account online you login to view and manage. This is my favorite, – free and does everything I wanted for managing my strategic contacts. I manage through a priority system which connections I see at the top on my dashboard when I login and their latest social media ongoings This helps me comment or retweet in a timely manner to my strategic connections.
Activities from above list program accomplishes: a, b, c, d
Nibble – this is a highly rated online service by PCWorld, New York Times, Forbes and others. It works similar to Gist. I really took to some intuitive features on individual contact profiles. The big reason why I selected Gist over Nibble is the ability for Gist to prioritize connections. After I imported my address book and LinkedIn contacts into these programs I found I had over 300 connections. That is far too many for me to stay on top of. That is where for me, some system for prioritizing is a must.
Activities from above list program accomplishes: a, b, c
There is something innately fun about creating an email and seeing a photo of the person right next to you, seeing their latest tweets and Facebook comments. It helps make connecting fun and enriching. It also makes it easier to find ways to help others achieve their goals.
Please share which programs you try out, also share if you use another online service or program that works well for you.