Entrepreneur Hacks: Automating Your Rolodex

This is part of a series of posts where I’ll be sharing tricks and tools I leverage to get things done and be a more productive entrepreneur and CEO.

Entrepreneurs live and die by their rolodex.

Your network is everything. It’s the people in your contacts list that help you quickly raise a round of funding, recruit talented individuals and land a big customer.

Entrepreneurship is an extremely busy job. If you are, or have been, an entrepreneur, then you know how busy this role really is. Between building a business, building a product, fundraising, recruiting, working with your attorney, working with your accountant, managing a team, selling, marketing and executing, there’s very little room to do anything else.

Tons of important stuff that we should do that just never gets done — like keeping your contacts up-to-date and organized. This task is very important if you plan on raising money, recruiting new talent or getting more customers — which are pretty much the key roles of a CEO. To help you optimize your time spent managing your contacts. you must pick up good tools and tricks available.

Whatever method you use has to provide a  quick-and-easy way to add contacts to your rolodex and tag them for later use — or they’ll simply fall through the cracks.

For example: you’ve been receiving emails from a ton of potential candidates for a Senior iOS Developer position that you have open at your startup. You’re only going to hire one person, but you’re gonna need to hire another developer down the road. So you’ll want to add them to your Google Contacts or Microsoft Outlook and then tag them so you can quickly reach them when you need them. The problem is that you will spend a ton of precious time manually entering them into your contacts database. Sure, you can copy-and-paste the information, but it still takes too much time to get each contact into your address book. So let’s ask ourselves: is there an quicker and easier way to do this?

The answer is yes 🙂

A few years ago, I learned a few super useful tricks from an entrepreneur friend who’s huge into life hacking. He showed me hacks for everything from tying my shoes to how to boil the perfect egg. Pretty cool stuff. But the most useful thing I learned from him was how to quickly add and tag contacts in my Google Contacts and Salesforce.com in less than 10 seconds. This is done using a tool called Evercontact.

Quickly Adding Contacts with Evercontact

Evercontact is a handy online service that comes with a Google Chrome and Microsoft Outlook extension. The Evercontact extension helps me quickly add a contact to my Google Contacts or Outlook address book by highlighting their signature block:

Mark Suster Email Signature

Clicking the Evercontact extension widget will prep the contact for immediate import:

 

Evercontact Chrome Extension in Action

Clicking the “Save to Gmail Contacts” button will automatically add them to my address book:

Save to Gmail Contacts Button

It’s freakin’ quick! And very powerful, too. It adds their name, phone number, title, address, company, etc. The Chrome widget also works to import contact information found on LinkedIn or a website. Pretty cool stuff. Evercontact also has an integration with Salesforce.com, which is good news for their CRM users.

With Evercontact, I’m able to significantly reduce the time it takes me to manually add a contact — so I can focus on entrepreneurship, not data entry. Evercontact also has a background service that adds each contact that emails you to your address book automatically. That way, you don’t have to bother with manually prompting Evercontact contact to add them. I personally don’t use that feature because I’d end up with a bunch of junk contacts.

Evercontact can also go back in time, look at all the emails you’ve received over the past 5 years, and automatically add those people to your address book.

Using Hashtags for Quick Lookup of Contacts

One key thing I do when I create a contact is add a hashtag to their notes section:

 

Using Hashtags in Google Contacts

That way, whenever I need to find a specific group of people in my contacts I simply run a search for the hashtag and all my relevant contacts with that hashtag pop-up:

 

Google Contacts Hashtag Search Results

 

I keep a Google Spreadsheet that lists all of the hashtags I use to track my contacts. That way, I can have consistency. You can download a copy of the spreadsheet here and import it to your Google Drive or open it in Microsoft Excel.

Now that you have a system making it easier to add your contacts into Google or Outlook and automatically listening for changes to keep them up-to-date, you’re probably gonna want to streamline getting them into your email marketing list so you can keep in touch. In my next post, I will show you how to automate this process, too. So stay tuned!

If you have any other tools or tricks that you use to make your life easier as an entrepreneur, please share them in the comments below. I’d love to hear about them.

Written by Andrew Bermudez

Andrew is the co-founder & CEO of Digsy, a free online platform that helps local business owners save time & money finding their dream office, retail & warehouse space. Before Digsy, Andrew was Senior Vice President & Principal of Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services in Irvine, California. He's a 12 year commercial real estate brokerage veteran specializing in representing tenants, buyers and landlords.

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8 Comments

  1. Great write-up, Andrew & thanks so much for featuring Evercontact in your contact hacks. It certainly is a huge time-saver & we’re glad you’re using it for all it’s worth!

    Also, like the idea of a #hashtag for each of your potential collaborators as the value down the line will certainly be there for you as they’re so well segmented.

    Definitely looking forward to then next post where you’ll share even more ideas on how to scale up interactions with all of your new contacts, specifically drip email campaigns.

    Cheers,
    Brad
    Evercontact Community Manager

    • Thanks, Brad. And thanks for making a good product. Good to see you found this post and thank you for taking the time to comment.

      I do have a feature request….

      If you guys could give us the ability to add notes within the Chrome Widget while it preps the contact for import, that would save me a lot of time. Any of that in your roadmap?

  2. “I keep a Google Spreadsheet that lists all of the hashtags I use to track my contacts.”?? Really? Use a second system to coordinate the first system? Hopefully SalesForce or whatever CRM is used allows for tracking contacts in multiple ways. If someone is still using Outlook or Google Contacts to manage their connections, someone has not been listening to everyone over the past five (pick a number) years… 🙂

    I would assume that Evercontact checks for duplicate entries first even correct contact names with company names that need to be updated. I have started using Ecquire which works with emails and social media sites, particularly LinkedIn. It alerts you if the contact is or is not in the CRM database and allows entry or updating while attaching the email to the contact. Ebsta (free) is another but it only works between Salesforce and LinkedIn at the moment. Requires a little more input from the user, but checks for duplicate entries and allows updating or adding as necessary. Ecquire is smoother and covers more sources, but it has a cost. In my mind the cost is easily offset by the ease of adding contacts from sources outside of SalesForce.

    • Andrew Bermudez @ Digsy

      December 4, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      Hey Lowell, thanks for the comment!

      I didn’t know about Ecquire. I’ll check it out. Sounds pretty awesome.

      The google hashtag spreadsheet I use for my google contacts is to keep consistency of my hashtags. In the past, I’ve had the problem of using one hashtag for something and then found myself using a similar (but not the same) hashtag to tag the contact. For example, when tagging developers I found I had tagged some of them #Developer – RoR and others #RoR. With the spreadsheet I’m able to quickly lookup a hashtag when I don’t remember what I use, so that I can keep it consistent. All of this would go away if Google allowed us to easily tag contacts, rather then group them.

      I don’t like using a CRM for my contacts, because I strictly use CRM for customers. I prefer to use Google Contacts to track investors, VCs, developers, salespeople, vendors, etc.

    • Hey Lowell — wanted to chime in as well on the points you had mentioned & hadn’t heard of ecquire or ebsta so glad to have that heads up.

      Evercontact runs 100% off of the email signature (or off the info you grab anywhere online), so it does provide a bit more detailed information & often more important info than you’ll typically find on linkedin/social media sites (ie phone number/address). Of course that email signature info does tend to be the most up-to-date of all info as well, and again, has more private contact info than possibly out-of-date and only public sites.

      Evercontact actually creates separate contacts for each separate email that a person has, as opposed to merging them into a single contact file.

      We’d love to have you give the solution a spin & happy to answer any other questions you might have.

      Cheers,
      Brad

    • Lowell,

      Pardon the non-techie question, but is there any reason a person would need both Ebsta and Ecquire?

      Thanks!

      Denise