Getting real and make friends, not contacts

When it comes to storing every little social detail about a contact (in a database, CRM or even a spreadsheet) the 37 Signals Getting Real Book always pops into my mind.

In the chapter “Forget Feature Requests“, it discusses (preaches) how feature requests from customers, should be forgotten:

“So what do you do with all these requests that pour in? Where do you store them? How do you manage them? You don’t. Just read them and then throw them away.

“Just read them and throw them away”… OK cool. When I see people trying to store every minute detail of a person that they may never be in contact with ever again, I wonder how much time they’ve spent collecting the information, trying to understand it and then filing it away as a “prospect” never to be viewed again. Why not just throw them away before you’ve wasted your time?

Now I can hear all of the social media guru’s out there shouting in unison about generating leads from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, et al… The fact of the matter is if you’re using a CRM system to follow up your social leads you’ve probably already left it too late. There’s no substitute for connecting and “making friends” with people on your networks first hand. Heather from Onboardly states, “Make friends – not contacts” over  at  this great post on PR, it goes on to say:

“Time is precious and no one understands this better than a startup founder. Instead of focusing all your efforts on cold pitching to as many writers as you can, why not concentrate on pitching to fewer in a more strategic, relationship-focused way?”

Do you really need to track hundreds of peoples daily movements in a “social CRM” tool to find out what they like, what they don’t like and what you’ve got in common? How many friends do you have where you know what they had for breakfast yesterday, what their kids teachers name is, or their favourite holiday destination? So why do you need to know this about your business contacts?

Are you interacting with them instead of passively following and profiling them? Sales are made through relationships and interactions, not listening and observing. It’s a two way street. Enjoy it. Creating new relationships is easier than ever, and with a team that is always connected, introducing people to one another and finding common ground is a personal and interesting endeavour.

Next time you’re about to embark on recording details on every one of your contacts or you read about the next best way to track everything it’s worth bearing in mind the following:

  • Keep it simple – use your “best of breed” apps wisely to interact. Is it easier to use your default Twitter client?
  • Make friends – Build strong relationships with a core set of people that you have things in common with and add them to your address book.
  • Interact – By focusing in on less people you will absorb more when interacting. If you can’t remember the important things about your client or prospective client, are they that important?