Personal CRM: Growing Networks Without Bottom-Line Pressure

Monday, March 25, 2019
Michael Zunenshine
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One CRM, hold the sales, please

When it comes to growth, you have to think long term, and forging relationships is foundational to such a far-sighted strategy.

If you’re using a personal CRM for business, the right platform can help nurture today’s contacts into tomorrow’s loyal customers. If you’re searching for a contact organization system to keep track of your expanding personal network and relationships, personal CRM has also got you covered.

The pros of getting personal

So what are the main features and benefits of a CRM dedicated to personal use?

  • Encourage new relationships into data-comprehensive contacts

  • Categorize contacts based on tags, locations, company and role

  • Store all contact history and communication for instant access

  • Organize schedules to keep track of events, meetings, and tasks

  • Get reminders to follow-up and reconnect with contacts

  • Have access to communication channels like email, text, and phone calls

A personal CRM can be for friends and family, co-workers, potential employees, suppliers, marketers, industry gurus, people you’ve met at networking events—this is a CRM platform built for any and all types of relationships.

What’s important is, when doing outreach and growing your network, many personal contacts have the potential to develop into a propitious business relation.

That’s the network effect: the more people join, the more valuable the network, regardless if each individual is a bonafide sales lead, or just barely related to your bottom line.    

Before you buy

When shopping around for a personal CRM as a solo user with a freshly budding business, you don’t have the time, staff power or resources for a lengthy adaptation process. You’ll likely be handling all the initial data syncing and contact population by yourself.

So simplicity is key. So is the cost.

Since this is mostly for personal use, you are probably working with a personal-sized bank account, not some mega corporate budget. Luckily, there’s many personal CRM that work with a personal budget.

6 personal CRMs worth getting to know

Airtable

Airtable sums up the personal CRM advantage by saying that “typical CRMs are too rigid or too expensive, and relationships fall by the wayside if you rely purely upon memory.”

Their personal CRM template does just that: being an affordable and flexible way to keep up with those in your address book.

First, you populate your network with all contact information as well as company name, role, and location. Then you can categorize each contact with custom tags, like personal, colleague, potential colleague, or potential customer.

The dashboard makes it easy to see all your previous engagements with each contact, highlighting things like your last “catch up.” You can set schedules for when you’re due to get in touch next or receive notices when you’re overdue.

FollowUp Personal CRM

FollowUp started off as a productivity assistant designed to work directly in emails. Why? Because the company realizes that email is where most small businesses and shoestring startups cut their teeth on building digital networks.

Now they’ve expanded to a dedicated personal CRM platform which can be added as a Chrome extension to function seamlessly within Gmail, handling all your existing Google contacts.

Every email you select in Gmail will pull up the contact’s info on the FollowUp sideboard, along with any notes you may have made about the contact in descending order from latest to oldest.

You can set reminders within each contact card, and FollowUp will send you that reminder directly to your Gmail inbox. You can also see all your upcoming reminders, scheduled tasks, and events as a clear list view.

Streak

Streak is also made to manage everything right from Gmail, whether it’s leads, support tickets, potential hires or entire projects. When it comes to personal CRM, Streak packs a bunch of tools into their email inbox kit.

The email power tools kit includes a tracking feature, which notifies you when someone has opened up your email; these notifications arrive directly in your email inbox. Pre-composed emails can also be scheduled to be sent at later dates.

You can compose blast emails for multiple recipients, with personalized details automatically filled into dynamic fields. These emails can be saved and pulled up for re-use as they are, or with fresh edits.

The thread splitter feature lets you take an email thread and turn it into two separate conversations. For example, in an ongoing conversation about a demo, the contact inquires about prices. You can split the thread into ‘demos’ and ‘pricing,’ with any other relevant colleagues CC’d to the appropriate thread.

Monica

Monica really puts the personal emphasis into CRM, stating right off the bat it’s all about “organiz[ing] the social interactions with your loved ones.” Literally, they promote the importance of remembering your grandma’s birthday or the names of your friends’ kids.

Despite its family focus, the platform is still useful for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Their contact management gets you all relevant info at a glance, including how you know the contact, especially if it's through another important contact in your network. You can also add notes and set reminders for important events.     

The dashboard is more of a chronological view of all the past and upcoming engagements you have with your contacts. There’s easy toggling between the dash and the contacts pages so that no task gets approached without all the information of the person you’re engaging with.

Finally, Monica has something fresh called the journal. This feature helps you stay on top of your personal daily productivity. The journal is for your eyes only, however, it also lets you cross reference data with contacts and the dashboard.

Sellf

Sellf is an Italian-based mobile CRM platform with a focus on sales performance, although there’s plenty of decent features for a more focused personal CRM use.

Their lead management organizes contacts, allowing for custom data fields. It also logs all engagements with each contact in a history timeline. This then works in conjunction with their todo feature for reminders, which can be displayed as a daily task-priority manager.

Sellf has many other useful tools for personal CRM like note-making and a document backup system for deeper contact insights.

Finally, there’s a calendar feature, from which you can directly open up your phone or email module when a scheduled event calls for such an action.

Plutio

Plutio aims to be an all-in-one business-management tool—from branding to invoicing—but is also a relatively light-weight app that’s useful for personal relationship management.

Their basic CRM has clear profile displays, customizable data fields, and note-taking abilities. Planned actions like making phone calls, sending emails and attending meetings can be logged and accessed directly in a contact or company profile.

The inbox module allows for email syncing, private direct messaging and live chatting. A great feature is how any action or event mentioned in the inbox can be quickly imported into the task module, which has other options like checklists, due dates, and repeating tasks.

Finally, Plutio has a calendar feature which has full Google integration. It can be displayed like a standard calendar, or it can list events in a feed.

Conclusion: The personal is professional

While Airtable, FollowUp, Streak, and Monica all offer free versions of the software, most paid personal CRM packages are well worth the affordable rates.

Airtable has plans for $12 and $24 (always per user per month), FollowUp starts at $23, and Plutio has plans at $15, $20 and $30. Streak’s paid plans are the priceiest— starting at $59, while Monica offers the cheapest package of the bunch at only $5 with no per-contact fees. For Sellf’s prices, one needs to contact the company directly.

Of course, most apps offer free trial periods, which is recommended if you have the time to fiddle about with different platforms.

However, since the idea of getting a personal CRM is to think about people first and profit later, it might just be worthwhile to get going right out of the gates with the most-fitting package.

An investment in personal CRM is all about going long. It’s a commitment to growth.

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