One of my (many) failures as a professional is my utter lack of a contact management system. I handle my contacts through Gmail’s search feature. So, if we haven’t received or sent an email, you are dead to me. I don’t defend this approach, it’s just the one I ended up with.
Let’s go upstream a little, though, and talk about what I do with business cards. Because that’s really what I’m getting at–what do I do when I receive contact information for a human I’ve recently met? Currently, it works like this:
- Do I want something from them, or is there some kind of action item associated with our conversation (“I’ll send you that article”, “here’s that plumber I mentioned”, and so forth)? I act on that more or less immediately, sending them an email so that they’re in my de facto CRM system.
- Do they want something from me? I wait for them to email me.
- If neither #1 or #2 apply, their card sits in a stack on my desk for a while. And then it usually gets thrown away.
Here’s what I should probably do: when I receive new business cards, immediately enter them into some kind of system which enables me to categorize, tag and annotate their contact details (“Met this dude at SXSW, does graphic design work for bands”). Maybe Apple’s Address Book software is satisfactory for this? I don’t want to use LinkedIn for this, because I don’t want to rely on somebody else to take action. Nor do I want to spam them with invites should they be disinclined to use the tool. After all, it’s my CRM problem, not ours.
But there’s a more fundamental question at play: why bother capturing contact details for people where there isn’t an immediate, obvious reason to do so (as in #1 or #2 above)? I already know more than enough web designers. Yet I meet new ones every month. Should I enter them all into my CRM system? There are exceptions, of course. We met a guy from Lonely Planet at SXSW. While I can’t say what use that connection might be today, I can imagine that it might be useful in the unknown future. Maybe I just need to be selective about who makes the CRM cut?
What do you use with the business cards you receive? And how do you manage your contacts?