Think back to that last networking event you attended. If you’re like most people, it’s hard enough to remember the names of people you are newly introduced to. And not just their names, but specifically who they are and how that relates to you, socially or professionally.
In recent years, the emergence of better communications platforms has moved the majority of personal interactions online. So that last event you went to might have resulted in a flurry of connection requests across social media afterwards. With the addition of all the acquaintances you connect with online on a daily basis, the challenge of managing such interactions grows exponentially.
With the recent Covid-induced shift to online communications for most businesses, this effect has been compounded even further. And for those whose networking connections are of higher importance due to the nature of their work, there has to be an organized system for tracking these interactions and helping them stay on top of things. This is precisely what a personal CRM aims to do.
What Is a Personal CRM?
A personal CRM plays a role that is quite similar to what other Customer Relationship Management software does for businesses. While a business’ CRM helps the company track interactions with its clients and provide personalized feedback across various touch points throughout the relationship, a personal CRM helps an individual manage interactions with the people the individual connects with. This might be for business, or simply for personal organization.
An individual might have an inordinate number of connections in their line of work. For example, agents in the entertainment business, marketers, sales personnel, event managers, and so on. They meet thousands of people over time in their line of work and need to stay organized, otherwise they easily get snowed under.
Others may just choose to use a CRM for personal life. Some people just value personal organization and want to enhance their ability to network, perhaps for career growth or some other goal. They want to track planned events and meetings, and other personal tasks using personal contact management software. So a CRM will be used to achieve different goals depending on the individual.
Why You Might Need a Personal CRM
You already invest so much time using your CRM software for work-related tasks that you find it impossible to use it for personal purposes. Just seems like too much.
However, if some of the following statements apply to your current state of affairs, you might want to reconsider your strategy. These are:
- You want to extend and grow your business or your line of work being a startup company or independent contractor.
- You tend to gather a large number of business cards from conferences, expos, and networking events that you frequently attend.
- There isn’t enough time to spend with the people you love.
- You schedule a lot of events on your calendar, yet you often find yourself missing them owing to scheduling problems.
Let’s now elaborate on each of those to better understand why a personal CRM might help you out.
For startups and independent contractors
You may be surprised, but the majority of small firms do survive that crucial first year (up to 80%) according to data from the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy published in Forbes. However, there are still those dreaded 20% of businesses that fail, and if you don’t want to join their numbers, a CRM is essential. Time and perfect order are of the essence when you are just starting out, and a personal CRM helps you manage both massively. Same goes for the self-employed people – your income and career path will never be stable enough if you don’t have stability within you and your workflow.
For better networking
Managing the contacts you make at the events you attend goes hand in hand with the above. If you are an entrepreneur or manage a business, networking is essential. How do you organize all the contacts you make at events? A personal CRM program enables you to effortlessly manage all of your contacts.
For more time with loved ones
It becomes quite difficult to see your friends and family because of all of your personal and professional commitments. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial. By automating task management and streamlining communications, a CRM program may free up your time for your loved ones.
For attending more events
Due to your extreme busyness, you forget your friend’s birthday celebration. Now, the first transgression may be pardonable, but then you forget their birthday the following year and the one after that… When that happens, your friend will likely have a problem with you, and for a good reason.
Missing occasions like this makes you feel as if your life is utterly disorganized. It doesn’t have to be like that if you start using a personal CRM.
Benefits of Using Personal CRM
There are many personal benefits to using a CRM.
To start with, a personal CRM gives you the ability to organize contacts in categories based on different criteria. This means you can perform actions based on contacts you have grouped by location, company, roles, or custom tags you decide on. For example, you could invite a certain group to an event that is relevant to them, based on their location for instance.
A personal CRM will also help you stay organized ahead of meetings and other events, providing a centralized location for all the information that pertains to the upcoming event.
By storing all the relevant information about a given contact in one place, you can quickly pull up your correspondence history with them and get yourself up to speed before a meeting so you are confident throughout your discussions. Simply showing a client you value them enough to remember important details and past engagements with them might help you close a deal.
Communication keeps relationships alive. A CRM could serve you timely reminders to check in on contacts you haven’t heard from in a while. In certain spheres, this will help you stay top of mind, something any business would benefit from.
With so many communication platforms available today, things can get a little messy and disorganized. A personal CRM could help you aggregate your correspondence and see it all in one place.
Through automating a number of processes in client communication, which would otherwise have to be manual (taking down contact info, making notes), a personal CRM spares you a lot of unnecessary labor and frees up your schedule.
Choosing the Best Personal CRM: What To Look For
There are many CRMs out there, and all of them offer varying degrees of quality and screaming for your attention. In making your decision, make sure you look out for the following:
When choosing a CRM, you want to make sure it can provide you with at least the benefits we have described in the section above. A good CRM will provide these and perhaps even more. So CRMs will usually have tools like a feature-rich address book with a business card scanner for example, customizable planners with reminders, a trip and event planner, calendar and event manager, and perhaps note-taking or journaling features.
Data Security and Backups
One of the worst nightmares one can imagine is to find your precious data gone. Carefully curated business contacts acquired over years of painstaking work, or a calendar with all your carefully planned events suddenly going AWOL. So you want to make sure that the reliability of the CRM you choose is unquestionable. Picking a name that is trusted and has been around for a while might be a good idea.
The CRM you choose should enhance your work, not stand in its way. So you want to choose something that is easy to use, has an intuitive user interface, and provides a bug-free, seamless user experience. The idea is to improve your quality-of-life, not stress you out.
You want all your software work as one, creating a harmonious ecosystem that makes your life easier. That’s why the functionality of email integration is very important – let your personal CRM use the data from your emails to help you streamline your processes even better.
Just like with emails, one of the main functions in a personal should definitely be calendar integration. It’s a great way of visualizing and syncing your plans with whatever notes you made for your contacts and, regardless, any CRM these days, personal or otherwise, would feel incomplete without a calendar.
Email and Phone Tracking
It’s always handy when software does all the critical info tracking and collecting for you. This way, you will always have critical contact information just a couple of clicks away.
You can remember what you discussed and when you should get in touch with someone again by adding personalized notes to your contacts, which any personal CRM should enable you to do. Think of it as a second brain for all contact information that is there to help you recall “easy to forget” things about the people you meet.
A good personal CRM will gather all the information about your contacts from all the sources it can have access to and assist you in developing relationships with them by using reminders. Reminders are a great way of following up on conversations, keeping track of contact’s birthdays or other significant events.
What Is the Best Personal CRM?
The market is literally teeming with CRMs all vying for your attention. We’ve rounded up a list comprising some of the best to get you going in your search for a solution that works for you.
Microsoft Dynamics 365
You probably won’t purchase Microsoft Dynamics 365 to use exclusively as a personal CRM. However, if your organization has already made that investment and you’re not using the features that the software provides for managing contacts and communications at an individual level, you are certainly not getting the most out of this powerful CRM.
Dynamics 365 provides tools to help you engage with your contacts on the type of device, or communication platform they prefer. It provides intelligence to help you work out what types of messages your contacts prefer and how frequently to communicate with them. Dynamics 365 will also give you tools to create custom messages and automate the process of sending them.
Feature-rich, secure, and highly scalable, as it is designed for enterprise-wide use. Integration with Microsoft products is seamless.
Designed to be an organizational CRM and so may be prohibitively expensive for personal use.
Module-based. Dependent on the scale of implementation.
Monica is a CRM that is meant more for personal relationships than professional ones. The open source CRM’s website says it helps you be a better friend, family member or spouse. It comes with features that could be used for business relationships as well. Reminders about important dates, a journal, activities done together, and relationships between contacts are all tracked by the app. It also provides an informative dashboard that shows past and scheduled appointments.
Monica is open-source. Meaning the app’s source code is publicly available. This means that there is complete transparency regarding what happens with your personal data, and also, the security and stability of the application.
Monica is only available as a desktop application and is only free if you host the application on your own server. Given that this is meant to be a personal CRM that you would want to have with you on the go, this could be a considerable hindrance.
$9 per user, per month
Cloze is billed as a smart CRM and AI assistant wrapped in one application that helps you manage your business in one place. The app aggregates your data from several platforms so you can manage it all on one platform. Data from your email, phone calls, text messages, meetings, documents, Evernote, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, and other services are all managed in the app. AI ranks the importance of the contacts and reminds you to connect with them, and the app provides you with lots of tools to help you with these interactions.
Cloze can be used as a mobile or desktop application, it is well designed and packs a lot of useful features
Although you can get the app free, the useful stuff is all exclusive to the paid version. The cheapest plan is priced from $17 per month, nearly twice what you would pay for Monica, for example.
Pro plan is $17 per user/per month, billed annually.
Airtable is another CRM that distills your data from several services into one location. It is also designed for business use and, according to its website, boasts some huge names like Netflix among its users. Airtable is more of a super-charged spreadsheet that can be customized according to your needs. Airtable is highly flexible and lets you build your own solutions and provides templates for the most common needs including a personal CRM template for entrepreneurs, small business owners, contractors, sole proprietors, and other individuals. It can be integrated with a number of applications, including email and social media services via its API.
The free version gives you a reasonable amount of data storage, sufficient for use as a personal CRM.
Airtable is primarily a desktop app. The mobile version is reported to be resource-hungry with some Android users complaining about its sluggishness. For a personal CRM, that can be quite inconvenient.
The basic version is free.
Sellf is an award-winning mobile CRM with lots of useful functionality targeted at customer acquisition, sales, and team members’ productivity. It has well-designed dashboards that show you customer insights, lots of useful reports, and at-a-glance snapshots of performance in relation to goals you’ve set. It also has calendar features, tools for lead-tracking, note-taking, to-do lists and other functions.
Sellf is a light mobile app that works well on both Android and Apple devices. It has an intuitive and well-designed interface that makes the application quite user friendly.
Sellf is clearly more aligned towards sales-related goals than other personal CRMs, although this may be a plus for people in sales and marketing. Also, while the app has a 14-day free trial, it does not offer a free version and the prices for its plans are undisclosed. You have to contact the company for pricing details.
Contact the vendor for pricing.
LincSphere is a CRM that is packed with features for growing professional networks. You can scan business cards, view contacts on a map, send referrals, and even get relationship-building ideas from the app. You can also set tags to categorize your contacts, set follow-up reminders, and use the app to introduce people.
LincSphere is a feature-rich app that works well on mobile devices, as a personal CRM should, and is clearly designed to help you build professional relationships.
It is only available on Apple devices, and the app’s free version is limited to just 25 contacts, which is practically nothing.
$4.99/month, or $49.99/year
A personal CRM helps you improve your productivity by taking the load of relationship-building and the management of your communications off your shoulders. A good CRM will ensure you are well-prepared for meetings – both social and professional – with great information, and will help you maintain those relationships over time. While choosing a personal CRM, you want to make sure that it is easy to use and will enhance and not hinder your productivity; that it is reliable, secure, and stable, and provides all the features that you need to achieve your own specific goals. You will then be well on your way to achieving that jump in productivity that gives investment in a personal CRM meaning.