I go to conferences and conventions on a semi-regular basis. Sometimes I am a speaker, sometimes an attendee. I make it a priority because it is a fantastic way to increase my networking circle while producing content and even improving my authority. Since attending events I have seen a definite upswing in my resulting profit margin and brand awareness.
Unfortunately, I am not really that good at real-life connections. I was always horrible with physical business cards, rarely remembering faces alongside the dozens of cards I was given. Once I finally began to get the hang of things, half the network I speak to has switched to purely digital connections while the other half have kept things traditional.
When I realized I was missing out on solid business opportunities, I began looking at ways to improve these connections. From there, I began to expand on that idea with my online contacts that I have made in other ways.When I realized I was missing out on solid business opportunities, I began looking at ways to improve these connections.
The results have been phenomenal. I am making more beneficial business deals and effective relationships than I ever have before. I have even improved my social and family life by managing to shift it into the rest of my daily routine. It is amazing how much can be accomplished by something as simple as organizing connections and contacts!
How I do it isn’t necessarily the best way for everyone. So here are a few tips for different situations that will give you an edge and let you start enjoying the benefits of those connections.
Keeping Track Of Business Cards
You are going to be doing most of your interactions online, but that doesn’t mean your initial meeting will be via the web. Business cards have always been my bane, as I can never keep track of who is who. By the time I leave a conference I have dozens of the things tucked away in my luggage.
I learned a long time ago that if I didn’t have some identifying information with the card that I wouldn’t remember who I had spoken to, what about, or how we might benefit one another. I used to scribble all that down on the card after getting it, but that was so impractical and tedious that I would often skip the step.
Now I use FullContact, one of several business card scanning apps out there right now. They let you upload the info onto the cloud, or (best of all) connect it with more than 250 other apps, including social media.
Keep and Sync All the Outreach Records All.the.Time
Are you launching an influencer marketing campaign? Hosting a Twitter chat or a webinar? Never skip a single connection you come across.
That’s what I do. It’s a matter of a habit. Any connection matters, so make it a rule to save all of them.
Part of my habit is to find anyone I meet online on Twitter and add them to a Twitter list based on how we met. Discoverly helps me find my email contacts on social media.
On a brand management level, I use a more integrated approach. The app is called Salesmate.
Primarily a sales tool, Salesmate can be a great relationship management platform keeping your (distributed or in-house team) in sync Add all your team members and set up your “Salespipe” for engaging influencers. From there you’ll be able to see, who on your team is the best relationship builder and who is better at developing those relationships rather than making the first contact. Salesmate will also help you save all those contacts in one place, store all the notes and in-team discussions and let you find those connections whenever you need them.
Keeping Track of Contacts Online
As I said before, not everyone is going with business cards these days. For those who are firmly locked into the digital world, or who you have met online, you need some good contact management software.
It is true that Outlook, Gmail, and other platforms have their own. But I have always found those to either be bulky and cumbersome, or woefully inadequate and too basic for the task. Having tried several other apps, I have been similarly underwhelmed.
The one I have been using that I like lately is Evercontact. It is a Chrome plugin that lets you grab contact details from anywhere on the web. You just click the button and it uploads all contact data including name, email, phone number, address and social media profiles from a page. You can then save it to any cloud or CRM that you choose.
The downside is that sometimes some of the info can come up mangled depending on how it has been placed on the page. Or if only some of the info is available you may have to get some of the details yourself. However, I have rarely encountered this problem and for the most part, Evercontact has been a great way to quickly and effectively gather and store relevant contact details.
Keep Track of Details and Relationships
The way I scribbled details on the back of business cards back in the day should tell you a little bit about how I operate. I need some extra details in order to run my day to day more effectively. Especially when it comes to relationship building, thanks to the never-ending sea of people I meet and connect with d regular business interactions.
First things first: Make sure you build new connections through your site. Make sure your on-site contact forms are functional and you encourage to provide additional contact information whenever readers decide to get in touch. There are great WordPress plugins that can help you build advanced contact forms. Many of them (including Gravity forms) integrate with Salesmate allowing you to sync your website contacts with your contact management platform.
Insightly is a great tool because not only does it give you everything you need for relationship building, including outreach and workflow automation, but it is a fully functional CRM platform with contact management built right into things. There are many solid alternatives, so choose one based on your budget.
Alternatively, if you need a full business platform you can also try Cyfe. It is a fantastic tool that lets you build your own widgets to perform any action needed for business management, from contact organization and storage to social media metric insights. Best of all it is free for most features and only $19 a month for their premium service ($14 if you pay annually).
For those who want a really well-rounded option, it might be worth getting both, as they can work together quite well to improve your contact management and boost customer relationships. I have used it myself more on the B2B end, working with others in my industry. Both have been very effective in that regard, so they are definitely adaptable.
One last tool I would mention in this vein is more for communication as a team. A lot of this is useless if you and the others who work with you aren’t on the same page. There are several tools out there but right now I think the best has to be HelpScout.
It creates a little subsection associated with customer emails and lets each person write a note to get a bigger picture. It then takes the relevant pieces from each and crafts a well-worded email back to the customer with all of that information intact. However, if you are using Salesmate, you won’t probably need this.
Have any tools for organizing online connections? Let us know in the comments!