A Few Good Tools To Manage Your Online Professional Network Connections | Beth's Blog

A Few Good Tools To Manage Your Online Professional Network Connections

Professional Networking

Flickr Image: Myles Grant

The last two posts I published on professional networking, “Smart Professional Networking Online” and “Tidying Your Online Connections” prompted some great discussion when I shared on Facebook. Heidi Ketroser Massey and Nancy Schwartz asked about tools to help manage the process. This post was inspired by that discussion.

Back when I first started working, my best professional networking tool was my Rolodex. Whenever I met someone new, the business card would get added to it, along with some notes on how we met and their expertise. Whenever I was working on a project or strategy, I’d flip through my Rolodex for ideas – people to reconnect with or realize that something was missing and I need to expand my network. It seems like a million years ago! Professional network contact management is a lot more powerful, but also a more complicated for individuals.

Today, our professional networks require a suite of specialized tools to be effective, that amplify good networking practices.

Here’s a few suggestions for tools and tips.

Source: TopdogSocialMedia.Com

1.  LinkedIn: Online social networks let us connect with many more people faster than ever.  So as a result, you may not remember how you met someone or the last time you connected or if you are searching through your network for a specific, unique identifier (someone you met at an event), LinkedIn can help.   Also, if you need to reactivate a past contact or search for a new one, LinkedIn is invaluable.   I use LinkedIn as my Rolodex on steroids, but in order for it to be effective, I have to aggressively use the relationship tab.  Here you can use tags and notes to help trigger your memory or find the right people faster when searching.    This infographic offers some great tips on effectively using the relationship tab.   If you need to tidy up your network connections by doing a little Spring cleaning, these tips are great.

2. EverContact: My main address book is in my Gmail account.  However, I hate, hate doing the tedious task for adding more than just an email address or updating addresses.  When I want to call someone (yes I still use the phone – human contact is important to professional networking), I waste time hunting down a phone number.  Or, I might get a call from someone, but it doesn’t show who that is.     Evercontact scraps signature blocks from your emails and then automatically adds the contact into to your address book.  So, if you get a phone call, you will know who it is, because Evercontact stored it from a previous email exchange.  Also, more complete information is stored in your email address book.

3. Rapportive:  This is a nifty Chrome extension that adds someone’s social profile to who ever you are emailing.  This allows you to customized your email a bit more and helps get their attention.   It can also help you do your prep work in advance of a face-to-face networking meeting or phone call.

4. YesWare:  The primary benefits of Yesware are e-mail templating.  Many times we want to reach with an opportunity or query to our network and customized it for folks.  But that can be tedious job even if you are only contacting a half dozen people.  Yesware E-mail templates make that task more efficient.  Works for both gmail and outlook.  It can also track your open rates, but I don’t use that feature.

5.  Boomerang: Following up with your contacts is important to network building.   Boomerang allows you set reminders for yourself, using gmail, to follow up.

I’ve tried pick out free or low cost tools for managing your online network connections.  I know there are many more options out there.  What other tools would you add to this list?    What are other professional networking best practice could be more efficient by using a tool with a specific feature?

15 Responses

  1. Norman Reiss says:

    JibberJobber (www.jibberjobber.com) is also a great tool to managing your career, which includes keeping up with your professional contacts. I’ve used it for years and it is constantly being enhanced. Thee is a free version and a pay version, but the free version may be all that you need.

  2. Beth Kanter says:


    Thanks for the tip! How do you use this in your workflow?

  3. I adore Copy2Contact. It creates contacts from email sig blocks. EverContact sounds similar. I’ll have to check it out.

    I also love Cardscan for turning biz cards into contact records.

  4. Beth says:

    Robert, thanks for these suggestions. I knew this post was lacking, but wanted to capture what I had discovered so far and query other folks. Now, I’m writing up a part 2.

  5. Beth, thanks so much for mentioning my article in your blog post. And I’m excited to check out #2 & #5 on your list which I haven’t used before. I use 1, 3 and 4 all the time and love them!

  6. Tony Macklin says:

    Hi Beth,

    Over the past 3 weeks, I’ve been experimenting with the online tool Cloze (https://www.cloze.com). It combines info from email and calendar programs, social media accounts, Evernote, into one CRM. It does some automatic prioritization and sifting of people you need to follow up with. There’s a free version and a pay version.

    Tony Macklin

  7. Eugene Lee says:

    Beth this is a very useful post. I saw your question to me on Facebook about whether I had any other suggestions. I found my mind going not towards additional tools, but rather a suggestion that might help people make the most of these tools.

    One of the most common things I find myself doing is making introductions. The question is who best to introduce to whom? So my daily habit is to look at 1. Facebook birthdays and 2. LinkedIn updates while drinking my first cup of coffee in the morning. It’s a very quick way to just virtually reconnect with a manageable set of people every day, see what’s been going on with them recently, and maybe say hi. This has helped me make introductions that I might otherwise have overlooked.

    Hope you and your readers find this helpful,

  8. Beth says:

    Eugene – what a great tip!! There is also a tool on linkedin called “newsle” that lets you see who if a contact has been mentioned in a news article. That would also be another great way to reconnect. I’m writing a follow up to this post and will mention your tip.

  9. Beth says:

    Melanie – the article was so perfect with its advice – was going to write something and then I found your post!

  10. Beth says:

    Tony – Great suggestion!

  11. Eugene Lee says:

    Beth, I completely forgot to mention Newsle – love it!

  12. James Ashby says:

    Thanks for the tips, 3 out of those 5 I had never heard of.
    You learn something everyday!

  13. Jill Freeman says:

    Great list Beth! I also use IntroNet (https://secure.intro.net/app/) that streamlines the introduction process and helps semi-automate some of the process – like the sometimes time consuming request of permission to connect before you actually connect people. Can be a great time saver if you do this often.

  14. Hi Beth. I thought of another type of tool that’s often the first step in building a relationship with a prospect: scheduling a phone call or meeting. I’ve been able to use the free version of ScheduleOnce. It’s so much easier than emailing back and forth about possible times.

    I blogged about it here (I had previously used Tungle, hence the post’s title):

    Lots of other promising tools have been mentioned in the comments, but I haven’t explored them since ScheduleOnce is working fine.

  15. […] Are you a nonprofit professional working in 2015? Do you still use a Rolodex to manage your online professional contacts? If you answered yes to both of these questions, you’ve got some work to do. Beth Kanter explains how to be successful in keeping network connections organized in her latest blog post. […]