How can I keep track of reaching out to my contacts on a regular basis?
March 12, 2013 5:35 PM   Subscribe

I want a contact management system that will remind me to: (1) follow up with new people I meet, and track when I do, and (2) reach out to those people on a regular basis (and track when I do). Please share your own app-based or text-based system for doing this!

I want a contacts system that will help me:

1. Follow up with new people I meet
2. Reach out to those people on a regular basis

I met a woman who trains people on how to manage their careers, and she said the biggest secret to success besides the obvious ones (be smart and talented, work hard, do exemplary work, be nice to work with) is keeping in touch with the large number of acquaintances you make. An old idea—the so-called "strength of weak ties"—that the people most likely to help you are not those in your immediate work/social circle, but friends of friends, peripheral contacts, and people you meet randomly.

I've always felt gross about "networking" and have never done it in any form. I'd probably be much further along in my career if I did. When friends turn to me at parties and say things like, "There are lots of important editors here, you should work the room, meet as many people as you can," I want to run away and cry.

That said, I'm a friendly, social person, and as long as I'm not doing it with some ulterior career motive, I love meeting new people and talking to them. I sometimes meet awesome people I really click with, at parties or conferences or book launches or whatever, people I'd probably become friends with under other circumstances.

I lose touch with approximately 100 percent of these people. My current system is (1) exchange cards when I meet them, then (2) no step two. Sometimes I friend them on Facebook and that's about it. Many of them are people in my industry who would be good to keep in touch with for professional reasons as well.

This woman I met said it really helps to keep in touch with these "weak ties," through "infrequent but regular reaching out." In other words: (1) sending a follow-up note soon after I meet them, and (2) sending an email every few months just to stay on their radar.

As a journalist, I'd also love to do a better job of keeping track of my source list and reaching out more often, including when I spoke to each person, who I need to follow up with, and when.

Right now I use Mac Address Book + Google Contacts. Inadequate.

I'd like a system to help me manage my contacts—not their contact info, but a timeline of past contact, plus future reminders.

Is there an web app or OSX app that will:

1. Remind me to follow up with a new person I meet (and note when I do so)
2. Remind me to reach out to them at regular intervals, e.g. every 3 months or whatever (and keep track of whether and when I do so)
3. Show me a timeline of when I've emailed people, when they've responded, etc and maybe snapshots of those emails

I also welcome suggestions on how to create a system to track all this manually in a text file, if you think that's the best way to go.
posted by incandescentman to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 50 users marked this as a favorite
A combination of LinkedIn and 500+ might be just what you're looking for... (if you're willing to use LinkedIn).
posted by matty at 5:42 PM on March 12, 2013
posted by amb at 6:02 PM on March 12, 2013

Best answer: Contactually was expressly designed for this, and is free for individuals.
posted by UncleBoomee at 6:23 PM on March 12, 2013

I freelance and I use Highrise for this.

It works really well, I do marketing through a lot of different channels (emails, printed mailers, calls, meetings, etc.) and I can track all of these points of contact through Highrise for each person (some of it is automated - like making a note for people who opened my last MailChimp newsletter). When I get someone's card I enter their info into Highrise and add a todo task for them ('send printed mailer next week', 'email follow up in 2 months'). I have hundreds of contacts and when I log into Highrise it just gives me a list of what tasks are due and exactly how to follow up with who.
posted by bradbane at 7:53 PM on March 12, 2013

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