I asked myself: What kind of contacts do I need? Which people do I value and what is just noise?
Background of this question was that I got a lot of concrete inquiries on my last article tons of feedback and fortunately also a lot of concrete inquiries. In order to approach this “networking” (I hate this word!) a bit more purposefully, I thought about a mental model.
I was able to divide all the people I still know and who I got to know into 3 rough clusters, each of which has its own goal (and pretty white ones all start with K):
- Customers: Clients for freelance jobs. A basic stock that regularly provides me with orders.
- Creative: Contacts with potential creatives and entrepreneurs for new business ideas and exchange of news
- Pals: Revive old friendships and maintain new friendships.
In addition, I have (similar to a classic Sales Funnel) all contacts are divided into 4 near degrees:
- Level 1: Regular meetings in real. I wouldn’t hesitate a moment to open a chat if I had a problem and I would be helped.
- Stage 2: Contact now and then. Many of these Berliners “you would have to have a beer again”.
- Level 3: Remote or very old contacts. Contacting usually only makes sense if the person can profit from it.
- Stage 4: No direct contact yet. Someone I once saw at a conference as a speaker, but who had no contact with me yet.
As a next step I transferred my mental model to Facebook Lists and Xing Categories – so I “tagged” my contacts like this.
Facebook and Xing are the tools I use the most in everyday life. With success, the model is of course easily transferable to Linkedin and Twitter. (In WhatsApp unfortunately not.)
So often I already sat on a Friday evening alone around and have thought lost my general Facebook list gone through with which I could do now what. If there’s any time now, I now have a pool of level 1 people who can be customers, creatives or friends with whom I can maintain a good quality connection.
Exactly the same, I now have a pool of people that I can quantitatively polish if I am not fully booked for the next two weeks as a freelancer and need orders. Then it doesn’t matter if it’s level 2 or 3 – it only varies in the cover letters.
The lists/tags only have real value if you maintain them regularly and are honest with yourself. My initial classification of many contacts was often wrong at first – especially between level 2 and 3. Some people you estimate closer than they actually are. But if you write to them, you notice that you are a little more distant than you want to be.
I mentioned in my last article yes that I am now very reflective about the steps I have to take anyway. Acquisition and networking is now the first of these.
Normally you would set up a CRM system like Highrise. However, most CRMs are designed for e-mail communication and sales. Not for real social media communication or the integration of friends.
Corrects me gladly, but I do not know any CRM system which integrates Facebook Chats and Xing-messages. Twitter is the highest of feelings. But for historical reasons I personally do a lot about Facebook and if I asked my friends for a beer via email instead of Facebook chat, they would grab their heads (and probably react much too late).
Therefore, existing CRM systems are of no use to me here. On the other hand, however, I also need a little convenience, such as that offered by existing CRM systems. For deals, notes, todos I currently use a Trello board with the same clusters.
A Business Idea?
Imagine that: A personal CRM system. You could chat across all networks on Facebook/Xing/Twitter/Linkedin, keep track of deals/todos on a meta-level and get support in actively developing your contacts.
Because keeping in touch is more than just chatting: For example A/B testing of chat messages, how to actively move a contact from level 3 to 2. Or you can programmatically think about which existing contacts you can use to reach a level 4 contact. The usual network mechanisms could be built in directly and adapt to your own contacts and communication.
There’s certainly a lot going on with gamification, too. Instead of building your farm, you can also invest time in useful human connections. Maybe it will soon be: Gratulation, you are now a level 5 friend of Klaus!