Today I received a message from a LinkedIn connection of mine. He is a really good bloke who has referred several clients to me in the past. This is the kind of LinkedIn connection I know I should keep in touch with more regularly and this message today has made me feel guilty for not being in touch more often! The problem is that I don't really have a system for keeping in touch. Can you relate to this?
LinkedIn is a great tool to find out about someone before meeting them and (once connected) a great way to keep up to date with what they are up to (via updates) but it's not a great tool to help us remember to keep in touch with someone. Some well-known CRM products integrate with LinkedIn but for many of us a sophisticated (and expensive) CRM tool is overkill - enter FIVEHUNDREDPLUS! (500+)
Last week a contact of mine introduced me to a new, basic but very useful CRM tool for LinkedIn called Five Hundred Plus. After just 30 minutes of playing around on the site I was so excited I decided to contact the developers to understand more about the product, its history and where it was going. 500+ works in a very simple and effective way. Initially you sign in with your LinkedIn account, this way it can look at your network on LinkedIn. Once logged in you just search for a connection (see below) and ‘drag and drop’ them into the relevant column for the frequency of contact.
This however doesn't have to just be for a connection, you can schedule contact reminders for other LinkedIn users outside of your network. You can even add more contacts who are not even on LinkedIn from the 'new contact' button.
Once this is done you will receive an email reminder every Monday morning with details of who you need to schedule contact with that week. If that contact is by email you can even bcc your 500+ account (see below) so that it automatically logs that the email has been sent - genius!
Here is a copy of my first email from 500+;
OK I'm not wild about the use of that awful 'touch base' phrase but its a pretty handy feature to have this weekly reminder!
You can also manually log an interaction and 500+ will then reschedule your next reminder;
Once a note has been added the due date will automatically change to the next scheduled contact (depending on which column it was entered into, see below) and as you can see you can make notes about the interaction as well as making notes about the contact.
This product is still in its alpha stage of development so there are a few little glitches (nothing major) and some functionality that could be added - for instance the site does not give you a link direct back to a contacts LinkedIn profile and it doesn't pull across information from the profile (such as contact information, background etc). I also think a tagging feature would also be useful (especially as it looks like this feature may be under threat with the new LinkedIn profiles). These are all areas for development and I know that Geir Freyson the developer is currently working on some of these improvements.
*UPDATE 28th November - Geir has now updated the site so that contact details now link directly back to the profile and location information is included.
In my experience some of the best app ideas come from developers who themselves find an 'itch' and decide to develop a product to 'scratch' it - this is a classic example of this as Geir told me that this was developed purely as a way to help them to keep in contact with their connections, they found it worked so well for them that they realised they had a product worth developing for a wider audience.
Overall I think this is a fantastic application and the best news....it is completely free! I can imagine an enterprise, team based paid version being a good way to monetize this in the future although I expect this single user basic edition to remain completely free.
Thanks to Geir for taking the time to talk to me about the product and also a quick mention to Mike Watson for introducing it to me in the first place....well spotted Mike!
I strongly suggest you give Five Hundred Plus a go, it could be the missing link in making LinkedIn a more powerful business development, recruiting & networking tool.