Your professional and personal life usually have a pretty clear line drawn between them. Yet sometimes, the tools you use in your professional life, such as a day planner and address book, could benefit you personally or even vice-versa.
You may already be familiar with the basics of customer relationship management or CRM software. Are you privy to personal CRM as well? A personal CRM platform can be something you use to grow your business as well as the relationships that are closest to the heart.
In today’s in-depth guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about personal CRM software. You’ll learn why this CRM can benefit you and how to use it most advantageously. We’ll even share the best CRM for personal use at the end of the guide.
What Is Personal CRM?
As we said in the intro, CRM is short for customer relationship management. That refers to software you use for contacts management, customer nurturing, sales and marketing, and keeping a unified record of past communications. The contacts on your CRM are leads, potential customers, and other professional contacts.
Lately, a growing interest has emerged in CRM for personal use. This is known as a personal CRM solution. Many of the elements you know and love with your professional CRM can translate to CRM for personal relationships. You can also use these features to grow an individual business.
Why You Should Use a Personal CRM
You already spend so much time in your CRM software for your professional tasks that you can’t imagine using the program in your personal life too. It just seems excessive.
If you’re on the following list of those who’d benefit the most from a personal CRM, you might want to rethink your approach. Here’s the list:
- You’re a new business or a self-employed individual looking to grow and expand your work.
- You attend a lot of conferences, expos, and networking events, and you constantly collect a pocketful of business cards.
- You have many friends but not as much time to see them as you wish you did.
- You have a large family from all the country/world that you struggle to stay in contact with.
- You plan many events on your calendar, but due to scheduling conflicts, you tend to miss a lot of them.
Let’s unpack the items on that list a little bit more.
Small businesses and self-employed individuals
According to 2018 data from the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy as published in Forbes, most small businesses will survive during that instrumental first year. Only 20 percent fail, but by not doing everything you can for your individually-run or small business, you could be in that camp. CRM is a must.
This goes hand in hand with managing the contacts you meet at the many events you attend. Traveling across the country to go to expos and conventions is by no means cheap. Sure, you can get package deals, but you’re still buying your airfare, hotel, and tickets to the actual event.
The contacts you may be introduced to during the convention can help you recoup your traveling costs, as you can make new business deals. Well, unless you don’t have a software for scanning in and making the most of that huge mountain of business cards you acquire. If anything, you’re wasting money at that point.
Large number of friends or family
You’re only one person with 24 hours in a day, just like everyone else. Yet between your personal and professional obligations, it gets so hard to see some of your friends and family. You try to prioritize time for them a few times a year, but even this doesn’t always work out.
In the time between visits, it’s important to maintain communication. This helps you maintain the relationship until you can next be together. A personal CRM can connect you more with friends and family alike so you feel closer to everyone.
You’re super busy, and so you forget about your friend’s birthday party. Hey, it happens to everyone, right? For that reason, the first offense is forgivable. Well, until you miss their next birthday, and the one after that too. Then your friend will probably have a serious problem with you, and rightfully so.
It’s embarrassing to miss events like this, and it makes you feel like your life is completely unorganized. It doesn’t have to be that way anymore.
The Benefits of Using Personal CRM
If the above is not enough to convince you to give personal CRM a try, check out these awesome benefits of the software.
Like we said before, we only have 24 hours of every day. Still, for some people, they go through each day feeling like there’s never enough time while for others, they can manage their time efficiently.
One key difference between those with more time versus those with less is the former group uses CRM. Like the software saves you time in a professional setting, this applies to your personal life as well.
You can tag and apply filters to your contacts to make your life easier later. Yes, this does require a time investment upfront. Still, the tagged and filtered information will not only make it faster to find who you need to, but your lists will also be more organized without your manual effort.
All Your Communications in One Place
Have you ever tried scrolling through past text messages with a friend or business colleague to look for one particular message? You start off with good intentions, scrolling a bit until you see a social media notification pop up. Maybe it’s an email or even a text from another friend or family member.
Before you know it, you start attending to other things and forget you were trying to dig through your text records in the first place.
Wouldn’t it be nice to not waste your time like that? Your personal CRM can take all your communications with friends, family, and business contacts and keep them in one place. That goes for phone call records, text messages, email, and even social media posts and comments.
Organized Contact List
If you’re using your CRM for a mix of professional and personal, then it’s especially critical that your contact list stay organized. You would hate to accidentally email your new client an email about your niece’s third birthday party this weekend. That would be unbearably embarrassing for one, and it could also kill that professional relationship in an instant.
We’re also quite sure your mom doesn’t want to be linked into your communications with that executive you met at your last networking event.
Prevent these avoidable gaffes by organizing your contact list through CRM. You can use the above mentioned filters and tags or even create targeted lists and keep contacts separated that way.
No One Falls Through the Cracks
Have you ever meant to send an email, but you forget to actually press the send button, so it just sits in your drafts? Perhaps you have a quick thought to get back to your cousin about their pending invitation later in the day when you have some time. Unfortunately, thoughts can be fleeting. On a particularly busy day, that thought enters your head and then exits just as quickly. You don’t remember to RVSP to the event until your cousin angrily texts you about it.
Once you arrange your tasks on your professional and/or personal calendars, your CRM can send you reminders and notifications when an event is coming up. This helps you remember everyone in all spheres of your life without eroding relationships and killing trust.
How to Build a Personal CRM to Improve Your Relationships
Are you ready to begin using a personal CRM but you don’t know where to start? We’re here to explain the basics to you in this next section.
Before you invest in a software outright, you can get a feel for how a personal CRM works by using a free, simple tool you probably rely upon regularly already. That’s Google Sheets.
Here’s what a sample personal CRM contacts page could look like in Google Sheets. Yes, it’s quite a long and complicated spreadsheet, so let’s make it a little easier to digest by taking it bit by bit, shall we?
Step 1: Access Google Sheets. The URL is sheets.google.com. If you input sheets.new into Chrome, you don’t even have to use that web address. The command will take you straight to Google Sheets.
Step 2: Add your columns. You want 14 in all. These include:
- First name
- Last name
- Social media URLs/account names
- Former companies (as relevant)
- Days since last contacted
- Last contact date
- Current company
- Current location
- Main email address
- Home address
- Phone number
- Legal name
The tag section can be a few words about how you came to meet the person, such as through a friend, at a networking event, et cetera.
Image courtesy of Hivewire
Your spreadsheet should be arranged this way by the time you’re done with this step.
Step 3: For each contact on your list, manually input the information to satisfy all 14 categories. Yes, this will take time, and no, there’s really no way around it unless you can import contacts from Gmail or even LinkedIn.
Step 4: The good news is that once you’ve gotten to that point, you’re mostly done. You might want to use a formula for the days since last contact column unless you want to calculate that tally for each contact on your list manually.
Try this time-saving formula: =TODAY()-H2
Step 5: If you add conditional formatting to the spreadsheet, that will showcase the contacts you’ve been in touch with the least recently. When you’re in Conditional Format Rules, add a color scale option to color-code your spreadsheet.
What You Can Do with a Personal CRM
The above steps and examples showed you that it will only take the better part of an afternoon to get your personal CRM off the ground. While you will get the most out of software over a spreadsheet, as the software has the features we talked about earlier, even a contacts management spreadsheet is a great start. It’s certainly better than nothing.
You’ll soon see that you can use a personal CRM in a variety of ways. For example, when you first open your business, you may look through your contacts when hiring personnel. Having everyone gathered in one centralized location makes it really easy for you to determine who may be the best fit for the job. Then it’s just a matter of sending them an email or picking up the phone to see if they’re interested in the position.
Perhaps you’re a part of a company you don’t own and you’re looking to make a jump. Having all your contacts at the ready also makes it easy to find the ones who could introduce you to a lead or let you know of any job openings.
The other reasons we’ve touched on throughout this article, such as keeping in touch, never forgetting to follow up, and nurturing relationships are also great reasons to use a personal CRM if you’re not already doing so.
The Features of Personal CRM Software
Let’s more closely examine some of the features you may use most with your own personal CRM software.
Let’s say you meet up with a friend for lunch and they mention that they want to introduce you to someone who could help your business. With a personal CRM app, you can quickly jot some things down using the CRM’s journal feature. This way, you don’t miss any pertinent information about this contact that can be of use to you later, such as their name, email address, and phone number.
Journaling also lets you track your thoughts and feelings as they come up during an average day. Whether it’s the first impression on someone new you meet, ideas for a project you’d like to start on soon, or something else entirely, you’ll be glad to capture all this information.
Business Card Scanning
You recently attended a networking event. You were quite busy too, collecting a lot of business cards. Now you’d like to capitalize on the contacts and get in touch with them. Yet when you’re looking down at your desk and typing someone’s email address from that vantage point, sometimes it’s easy to make mistakes.
You then end up sending the email to the wrong address, probably never hearing back. In such a situation, you write off the contact as a dead-end even though they would have been willing to talk to you.
By scanning business cards into your custom software, you never make another misdial or typo when calling or emailing anyone again.
Calendaring and Events Management
Your personal life is just as busy as your professional one. Whereas you might have an assistant at work who helps you check off more of your to-do list, you have no such luck at home. Luckily, a CRM program can become almost like your personal assistant.
You can create a daily, weekly, or monthly calendar, tracking all your personal appointments and events. If these overlap with professional work arrangements, you’ll know right away. That allows you to make alternate plans early on rather than be stuck with two engagements on the same day and no way to make both.
It’s even possible to take calendars from other tools and programs you use and then attach them to your CRM software. No more will you have to jump from Gmail to your CRM and back again to keep track of all your engagements. They’ll all be accessible from one convenient place.
You’ll also impressively stay on top of your personal life with CRM reminders. When you have that doctor’s appointment, networking meeting, or your kids’ soccer practice to get to, your software will remind you.
In that regard, your CRM almost becomes a personal relationship manager. Your friends and family will marvel that you manage to maintain both your professional and personal lives so flawlessly.
You know you talked to your friend last week about meeting at the movies this Friday, but you can’t remember what time you agreed to. With a communications review feature built into your CRM, you never have to guess who said what and when.
You can simply go back and dig through your email or text message records as kept in your personal CRM. Then you’ll quickly see how you agreed to go to the movies at 6:30 and not 7 p.m. like you had thought.
Again, this improves your personal relationships because you’re never late. You can also avoid pointless squabbles with friends and family about small details when it’s possible to pull these up for review.
Contact Management and Importing
Your personal contacts list may nearly outnumber your professional one. As you would expect then, your CRM can also help with your personal contacts.
Trust the software to be your personal contacts manager. If you’re falling out of touch with a family member or friend, your contacts list will make that apparent. You can then reach out and reengage the relationship. After all, the personal relationships that fulfill us are as valuable as those professional relationships that make us money. Both need engaging and nurturing from time to time.
If you previously used such tools and programs as Microsoft Outlook or Gmail for your personal and professional email needs, most personal CRM software will let you import your contacts. Instead of taking the time to manually re-input each contact on your list, the list converts over in a matter of minutes.
In this regard, CRM almost stands for something different, contact relationship management.
From time to time, you may opt to make a personal spreadsheet as we talked about before. Besides a contact list, your spreadsheet may be related to finances, except on a personal rather than a professional level. Here’s an example of what one of these spreadsheets might look like.
Image courtesy of Vertex42
The personal spreadsheet above is a fairly complex one. You can feel free to simplify yours if that’s easier to recreate one similar to the example. It takes into account such things as monthly income from savings transfers, reimbursements, refunds, gifts, dividends, interest, income, tips, and wages.
Then, all the monthly home expenses get tallied up. These include improvements, supplies, maintenance, lawn and garden, appliances, furnishings, Internet, cable and satellite, phone, trash/sewer/water, gas and oil, electricity, insurance, and mortgage.
The money you make from your business doesn’t mean much if you can’t manage it personally. With personal spreadsheets, you can get on top of all your finances so you can feel more confident about the money decisions you make.
We talked above about how a personal CRM can help you better manage the events on your calendar, but what if we told you the software can do even more? The next time a client wants some of your time or a friend requests to go out to lunch, you can schedule meetings into your calendar through the CRM.
The follow-up is a major part of progressing both your personal and business relationships. If you reach out to someone but they don’t get back to you for several days (or even a week), it’s always a good idea to follow up.
However, with no recent email from this person in your inbox, you have to dig back through your sent folder to even remember to reach out again. It’s no wonder you may forget to follow up a lot, even though you’d like to do it more.
Your personal CRM is here to help. You can make a follow-up template you send it to most contacts after making a few tweaks. Set up reminders through the CRM for a follow-up alert or notification so you never forget to reach out to someone a second time.
The 5 Best Personal CRM Systems for 2020
We’ve expressed the benefits and advantages of a personal CRM solution throughout this guide. You tried making your own contacts spreadsheet per the steps above, but you need something more inclusive.
Which CRM systems are the best for both personal and professional use in 2020? We’ve narrowed it down to these five: EngageBay, ZooWho, Monica, Airtable, and Cloze. Here’s a deeper dive into each of these great CRM programs.
As an all-in-one solution for business people doing sales and marketing, EngageBay began as an alternative to similar, much more costly software. They stand out for their CRM, which is always free to use.
Within EngageBay’s CRM, you’ll find all sorts of features to help you stay on top of your life. These include:
- Call integration: EngageBay’s own CRM Telephony uses third-party integrations for more context and data from every phone call you make to your colleagues and family members.
- CRM email syncing: The CRM Email Integration feature is another handy one. Your emails will stay in your inbox, but a copy gets made that goes to your CRM as well. This builds up a complete, accurate communications record with any and every contact.
- Communications timeline: Of course, you do more than email and call your contacts. Whatever other communication methods you utilize, be those social media, meeting notes, and more, it all goes into EngageBay’s communications timeline for easy access.
- Task automation and follow-ups: Your to-do list will become so much shorter with EngageBay’s task automation and follow-ups. You establish the rules that govern the task automation. You can then send yourself reminders to stay on-task.
- Meeting scheduling: Save yourself time from emailing or texting with a contact and set up meetings faster with the meeting scheduling feature. As soon as a meeting becomes official, it gets added to your calendar without you having to manually do it.
Another free solution for your consideration is ZooWho. Calling itself a “digital Rolodex,” ZooWho is made for businesses and individuals who want better control over their personal lives. It’s a personal CRM app you can download on the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.
Using ZooWho affords you the following features:
- Event reminders and gift suggestions: If you can’t figure out what to buy for your friend’s birthday, let ZooWho make some recommendations you’ll love. These recommendations, when combined with event reminders, mean you’ll never forget another birthday again.
- Contact importing: Since you’ll likely use ZooWho on your smartphone, it’s easy to get started importing your contacts. The app will pull these from your smartphone address book.
- Social media linking: If you don’t want to open a bunch of apps to keep tabs on social media, ZooWho is the personal CRM solution you’re looking for. You can link all your social profiles and those of your friends and family through the app’s social tab. Current social platforms with support are YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
- Customizable reminders: Do you like your reminders a certain way? With ZooWho, you can determine whether you get push notifications or alerts sent to your inbox, as well as the time intervals in which you receive them.
Monica was founded based on a need to better manage our personal lives when we’re so busy almost every day. Since then, Monica has sent 89,918 reminders, logged 28,321 activities, managed 340,273 contacts, and registered 44,123 users as of this writing. You can try Monica for free on a trial basis to get a feel for this highly-recommended personal CRM.
Here are some noteworthy features worth talking about:
- Open-source: Monica is an open-source personal CRM platform. You can check out the code anytime and add to it if you’re so inclined. Due to how many people work on Monica, you can ensure it’s a safe, secure, and well-working CRM solution.
- Server hosting: If you’d like to host Monica on your own server, that’s an option. Otherwise, the CRM will remain on its own original, dedicated server.
- Centralized communications: As you’d expect out of any good CRM, Monica allows you to manage all your contacts, interactions, and other pertinent information on an appealing centralized dashboard.
- Gifts: Monica is yet another CRM with a gift feature. For any contact, you can see the gifts you’ve already offered and add new ones.
- Journaling: Add journal entries and rate your day using three emotions. If you did something with someone and logged it, Monica will add that event to your journal. Otherwise, the journal remains private, unless you don’t want it to be.
Yet another great CRM to consider for enhancing your personal relationships is Airtable. This isn’t free software, but you can take advantage of a free trial. Airtable was developed with the goal of creating software that’s more flexible to your daily needs, both personal and professional ones.
Check out these great features included with Airtable:
- Blocks: One of the standouts of Airtable’s CRM is the introduction of Blocks. You take information and data and then arrange it into a visual workflow. You can format data anytime in such ways as an organization chart, a 3D model, page designer, scatter chart, line chart, bar chart, geocode, or maps.
- App integration: Which apps do you use in your day-to-day life? Airtable probably integrates with them. Some of the integration options include Facebook, Twitter, Evernote, MailChimp, Meetup, Google Drive, Dropbox, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
- Switching views: All the tasks you do may not necessarily require the same view. Airtable lets you switch between Kanban, gallery, calendar, or grid view depending on which accommodates your work at the time.
- Adjustable fields: The content fields in Airtable are meant for barcodes, tables, records, checkboxes, sizable text notes, and attachments. You’re not limited by what you can feed into the CRM.
- Desktop and mobile app: You can access the Airtable app wherever you need to, such as at your desktop computer or your smartphone and tablet. Now you can collaborate with your team as necessary no matter where they are.
Our last recommended personal CRM tool is Cloze. Like most of the other options we’ve recommended, you can sign up for a free trial with Cloze before buying. It’s available to sample on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
With Cloze, you can do the following:
- Cloud syncing: Since you can access Cloze on your desktop computer, tablet, smartphone, or elsewhere, you don’t want to lose any valuable information working from one device to another. Cloze uses cloud syncing so all the information gets updated in real-time.
- Follow-ups that are algorithmic: The Cloze learning algorithm uses your past and current interactions to determine the contacts that matter to you the most. Then the app will send automated follow-ups centered around those people.
- Organized syncing: Your social posts on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, as well as your Evernote usage, your documents, meetings, phone calls, and emails, are all synced to Cloze with no effort on your part. The app even organizes this data, saving you lots of time.
The CRM software you use in your business dealings may come in handy for your personal life as well. Known as personal CRM, you can stay in better contact with your friends and family, remember events that may have otherwise slipped your mind, and manage your calendar for less stress.
The five personal CRM solutions we recommended are perfect for better harnessing all aspects of your busy life!