By: Kevin V. Michael
MIAMI – Effective contact management lies at the core of every professional’s success. Turning strangers into friends and then into advocates is a foundational skill for creating opportunity for yourself and your organization. Here are a few tools that I suggest to simplify the process of collecting, organizing and leveraging your contacts.
In the world of social networking sites for business professionals, LinkedIn is the 800-pound gorilla. Based on the principle of six degrees of separation, the site allows you to create a professional identity (skills, work experience, etc.), connect with professionals you know and trust, and provides you the social data that you’ll need to connect with others. Personally, I’ve used LinkedIn to find prospects, identify partners, market my company and reach out successfully to complete strangers. I could spend hours explaining how to use LinkedIn to your advantage, but I’ll leave that to the marketing pros. Just take a moment, register and make LinkedIn a cornerstone of your relationship development strategy. Trust me, it will be worth your while.
It’s pretty safe to say that we all enjoy meeting new people and collecting business cards, but hate the process of entering business card information into our contact systems. In comes CardMunch. This nifty iPhone application allows you to snap a picture of a business card, submit it to the CardMunch system and voila! In less than 5 minutes you’ll have the complete contact data sent back to the app for you to save to your phone, send a follow up email and even connect with that contact on LinkedIn. It really helps you skip the tedium and get down to what matters; fostering connections. In lieu of an iPhone, Android users can get similar functionality with Google Googles or can wait until the Android version of CardMunch launches. For folks on other platforms, I would recommend the Shoeboxed service. It’s not free or quite as immediate, but it does the trick and a whole lot more.
I came across this service after the unceremonious demise of my previous favorite, DeferredSender. LetterMeLater allows you to schedule an email to be sent at a future date and time. This comes in handy for following up promptly with contacts and avoiding being labeled a vampire when you send out that 3am email. The service is great because it works for any email client and for any whimsical purpose you can find.
I would caution you to avoid sending sensitive data using the service (but that really applies to email in general) since the email is stored on LetterMeLater’s servers until it is delivered. Another great option for anyone using Gmail or Google Apps, is a helpful Chrome/Firefox web browser extension called Boomerang.
Kevin V. Michael.
About the Author
Kevin V. Michael serves as co-founder and Managing Partner of Invizio, a South Florida IT services and consulting firm. Overseeing business development, strategic partnerships and client relations for the company this Antiguan-born entrepreneur and corporate alumnus of Motorola and Citigroup is one of South Florida’s brightest minds in the IT industry.
Mr. Michael holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology & Software Engineering from the University of Miami College of Engineering with majors in Computer Science and Computer Information Systems and is a Microsoft Certified IT Professional. In 2011, Mr. Michael was named one of South Florida’s 40 Under 40 Professionals of Today and Tomorrow by Legacy Magazine in partnership with the Miami Herald.