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Minimal CRM and the challenge of tagging

Many of my friends have either added a CRM tool to their email application (i.e., adding Streak to GMail or PoliteMail to Outlook), or they have created a CRM-oriented routine using other tools such as Excel or Evernote. 

Because I've seen what a great CRM application can do, I am attracted to a full-featured product like Salesforce, but then discouraged because I just don't have enough 'relationship-building' time to use all its features. 

I recently stumbled across an article by Khe Hy, who used to be a hedge-fund manager and is now a writer and adviser. He did a great job of zeroing in on the essential issues of having a 'personal CRM' and the challenge of grouping and tagging your contacts. I've been trying to do this in LinkedIn, and it's so much more difficult than I anticipated. Khe has done a great job of 'hacking' this problem. 

RadReads: I couldn't find a good personal CRM so I created my own and want to share it with you, 2014-Aug-23 by Khe Hy

[I've lightly edited this information to be easier for future reference.]

The crux of the system is 4-category tagging system. As I meet new people, I use four tag families to describe their attributes: 1) Industry/Sub-Industry,  2) Job function, 3) Passions and 4) Personal Attributes. 

  • The first two are pretty straightforward (and very similar to LinkedIn); however, much of the magic occurs when you understand and connect upon an individual’s passions and personality traits. Quite simply, people connect more deeply over their personal commonalities than the information on their business cards.

  • ...The most “controversial” part of this system is that the tags are hard-coded [limited and pre-defined]. The reason I did this was to enforce some self discipline on the user (and to make things searchable). As most Evernote users know, the free form nature of tags makes it very hard for them to be effective. The example that I give is say you were using “Crossfit” as a tag – one day while updating you may type in “Xfit” and you would immediately have duplicates.

If you’ve made it this far, you must be wondering if creating these tags, updating individuals, filtering, etc is worth all the work. I would say that this tool becomes pretty powerful as the number of individuals increases. I currently have 500 people in mine and I believe that it enables me to really surpass Dunbar’s Number [150 contacts is a human limit without technology support] as I try to make myself as helpful as possible to my network of friends. I’ve added fields to help manage small mailing lists and to also keep track of attendance to the various events that I host. [In the CRM world, these are History fields.]

  • Resist the habit of adding new tags right away. Start by adding them in the Free form field and making a habit of scanning those every month or so.
  • Comment your tags – this can help resist the temptation of adding new ones too quickly or dealing with those that are not mutually exclusive

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