Home Grown Keep In Touch System

A few weeks ago, I read a book that detailed a Keep In Touch program for your clients and contacts. It was meant as a relational marketing tool, to keep your name in front of clients and potential clients.

I don’t really have clients, per se, but I do have people that I want to stay in touch with: family, friends, folks from school I haven’t been really good about speaking to… So I decided to implement a personal Keep In Touch program.

I first searched the web for some free software because, hey, I’m really lazy, and if there’s already a system in place, I’ll use it. Apparently there’s not. So I created my own system, and I’ll detail it here for you.

Image representing Plaxo as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase, source unknownFirst, I got all my contacts in one place. I’m using Plaxo, synced with Address Book on my Mac. This also syncs with my iPhone, so I have a complete and updated address book on my laptop, my iPhone and on the internet at Plaxo.com in case my phone dies and I don’t have my laptop with me. So far, this system has worked really well and I’ve never been without my contacts’ info when I needed it.

I’ve gathered all the info I can from all my sites with contact info, namely LinkedIn and Facebook. This takes a really long time, people. Really long. LinkedIn has an export feature, but it really doesn’t give you much valuable info. And, it is actually against Facebook’s privacy policy to have an export feature, so if you want the contact info from Facebook, you have to go through every contact and get it manually. Now, whenever I add a new friend/contact on Facebook or LinkedIn, I go ahead and put their info in my address book, so I won’t have to do a big Facebook trawl for info ever, ever again. It sucked big time.

Now, of course, this only really works if you’re using LinkedIn and Facebook as intended, and your friends and contacts are people you actually know.

Ok, now on to the categorizing. Plaxo (and Address Book on Mac) has a way to categorize your contacts. If you have a way to add a category, a group, or a new field in whatever address book you’re using, it’s cool. You don’t have to be using Plaxo and Address Book on Mac. I went through every contact (and I have almost 400) and categorized them into the following groups:

N- I never really feel the need to speak with this person, but I want to save their contact info anyway, or I see this person daily (at work, for example) and don’t need to have a Keep In Touch plan for him/her.
1y- I will get in touch with this person at least once a year.
6m- I will get in touch with this person at least once every 6 months.
1m- I will get in touch with this person at least once a month.
2w- I will get in touch with this person at least once every 2 weeks.

Most of my contacts ended up in N. I know a lot of people that I either don’t need to stay in touch with, don’t want to stay in touch with, or don’t really know that well.

Once I had everyone categorized, I took all the categories except N and began putting them in my task list. I use RememberTheMilk, but you can use whatever task management program you like, as long as you can set it to repeat tasks at specified intervals. I put everyone on my list. If I knew their birthday, I went ahead and used that as the starting point, since I’m obviously not going to get in touch with everyone, like, this week. For the people whose birthdays I didn’t know, I staggered them throughout the year. For each one, I set up a repeating task based on how often I’d like to contact that person.

Et voila!

Honestly, it took a really long time to do all that, but I’m so glad I have it in place now. Maintaining it will be a comparitive piece of cake, and the biggest benefit is that I have a system in place to keep in touch with everyone I need to keep in touch with, and I won’t forget, and I won’t be sending notes saying stuff like, “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry I haven’t spoken to you in THREE YEARS! Can we still be friends?” And that’s worth a lot.

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