June 8, 2023

Why you need a Personal CRM and the 4 best apps on the market

Teresa Lee
Content marketing manager

Discover folk - the CRM for people-powered businesses

You might have heard rumblings recently about personal CRM systems, as they get more and more popular. So what's the deal? Is a personal CRM really the newest must-have hack to boost your personal network, or have we taken productivity too far by bringing our personal relationships into it?

Why personal CRMs now?

In today's fast-paced and ultra-connected online world, lines are blurring between personal and professional relationships. Now that job opportunities and new clients can be just as easily found on an Instagram or LinkedIn search as through a formal professional introduction, the well-known refrain “your network is your net worth” has never felt more pertinent. 

In addition, our interactions (the building blocks of our relationships) are happening all over the place. Where once they were limited to in-person, telephone, or letters, now we have hundreds of platforms online where we can connect with other human beings. So it's more difficult yet more important than ever today to effectively manage our contacts, ideally in a centralized system, in order to effectively build and maintain all the different kinds of relationships in our lives.

How, I hear you cry? Well, it's worth taking a leaf out of the best salespeople's books, and get yourself a personal CRM. Some argue it's "icky" or calculating to implement a system to optimize your personal relationships. But it's really a practical solution: our brains all have limited capacity, and a personal CRM lets you expand that to make room for more people and a wider, stronger network.

An introduction to personal CRM tools

Whether you're a prosumer, investor, executive, salesperson, influencer, or just your average person who uses the Internet, staying on top of your contacts can be overwhelming. Fortunately, personal CRM software can help by offering a centralized location to store all your contact information. With this dedicated tool you can track your interactions, and automate follow-ups, streamline your personal contact management, professional networks, and cultivate better relationships all round.

In this article, we'll be looking at

  • The benefits of using a personal CRM
  • The features you can expect from a personal CRM app
  • A comparison of the top 4 personal CRM players on the market today.

So, let's dive in and discover how personal CRM software can help you take your relationship-building to the next level.

Why bother with a personal CRM?

Before we dive into our top picks, let's take a closer look at the benefits a good personal CRM can offer, and what features to look for. It should ideally integrate with your email, calendar, and social media platforms, providing a holistic view of your interactions with each contact. The best CRMs should also boast features like mail merge, reminders, and analytics to help you stay on top of your relationships and identify opportunities for growth.

Personal CRM features

Benefit #1: Stay Organized

With a personal CRM, you can store all your contacts in one place, so you no longer have to waste time searching through different platforms to find the information you need. You can also categorize your contacts, add tags, and make notes, so you can easily find and filter the people you need to reach out to, and keep context on your last interactions.

Benefit #2: Build better relationships

A personal CRM will help you improve communication, which is the foundation for any good relationship. Track all your communications with each contact, so you can see the last time you spoke with them, what you talked about, and what follow-up actions you need to take. This is especially helpful when you are trying to building and nurturing relationships with a large number of people.

Benefit #3: Increase Efficiency

Using a personal CRM is a one-way street to increased efficiency in managing relationships. With features like mail merge, reminders, and templates, you can save time on repetitive tasks and focus on the quality of your interactions. You can also set reminders for follow-ups and schedule emails to be sent at a later time, so you don't have to worry about forgetting important dates and accidentally leaving someone feeling neglected.

Benefit #4: Identify Opportunities for Growth

Finally, a personal CRM can help you identify opportunities for growth, particularly with business relationships. Using analytics and reporting features, you can see which contacts are most engaged with your content, which emails are getting the most responses, and which opportunities are most likely to convert. You can also search for the right people for a given context like "Who are the investors in SaaS in Europe?" or "Who do I know in SF?". This information can help you make more informed decisions about how to prioritize your time and resources.

Comparison of the 4 best personal CRMs

With all that said, let's explore the top 4 best personal CRM tools on the market today. Bonus: all offer a free version so you can try them out for yourself before committing.

1. folk: the most flexible and user-friendly personal CRM tool

Our first pick is folk, a beautiful and intuitive CRM that offers powerful functionality without being overwhelming. It offers integrations with Gmail and Google Calendar, as well as a Chrome extension that makes it easy to add new contacts on the go. Users rave about folk's intuitive interface and clean design, making it an especially great option for anyone new to CRMs.

If you are looking for a CRM system that goes beyond what Google Sheets offers, look no further than folk. This lightweight yet robust system is fully integrated, customizable, and offers an array of features to help you manage your contacts and sales processes with ease.

One of the standout features of folk is its ability to import data from various platforms such as Gmail, Outlook with a direct integration.

folk CRM contacts table view
folk database of contacts

Also, the chrome extension helps you import contacts in a single click from anywhere on the web: LinkedIn, Sales Navigator, Twitter, Instagram, Gmail, and even Tiktok. This means you can bring all your contacts into one place, making it easier to categorize them into groups and keep track of all the information you need.

folk CRM Chrome extension being used on LinkedIn
Import contacts from LinkedIn to folk

Once you have your contacts organized, folk gives you full interaction details, with the option to add reminders and take notes - all helpful elements for customer relationship management.

folk CRM showing a zoom in on a contact, showing previous interactions
Preview history of past interactions
folk CRM showing notes on a contact
Take notes on folk
folk CRM showing reminders on a contact
Add reminders on folk

Sending customized email campaigns is a breeze with folk's embedded mail merge system. You can easily insert variables as shown in the image below and send personalized emails in bulk. And because you can review previously sent/received email messages and calendar events directly from your CRM sheet, it's easier than ever to send personalized mail merge messages.

folk CRM showing a new message being composed, with variables
Send emails in bulk

folk also makes it easy to track the results of your email campaigns by providing opened, clicked, and bounced rates - unlike other personal relationship management software.

folk CRM showing email analytics
View campaigns' results

You can even create drag-and-drop custom pipelines to manage processes, whether for inviting people to an event, fundraising, making sales, or anything else you might need.

folk CRM showing a fundraising pipeline kanban view
Manage pipelines on folk

folk also offers a mobile responsive version, plus the option to share lists with people.

It's also highly collaborative. Yes, this is an article about the best personal CRM, but should you ever need to expand and invite more people into your CRM one day, it couldn't be easier in folk. You can manage persmission levels, share notes and files, and tag one another in comments and set reminders.

All in all, if you're in the market for a personal CRM system, folk is the best personal CRM option out there. It's an address book on steroids. With its array of customizable features, easy-to-use interface, and robust integration capabilities, it's the perfect tool to help you manage your contacts and processes with ease.

Sign up now and start using the free version of folk – there's no time limit on the free version.

2. Dex: single-player, integrated personal CRM tool

Next up in the list of personal CRM tools is Dex, a CRM that's specifically designed for individuals.

Similarly to folk, Dex offers options to bring contacts from multiples sources like Gmail, Instagram or LinkedIn both with direct social media integrations or with a Chrome extension. All the contacts will then be listed in a view named "All contacts", with unlimited contacts. This helps limit manual data entry.

Dex CRM all contacts view
All contacts on Dex

Dex personal CRM lets you visualize a dashboard, but that can sometimes feel slightly clunky and inappropriate for personal CRM systems.

Dex Desktop App
Dashboard on Dex

One interesting element of Dex is the option to visualize a contact timeline, similar to what folk offers. This allows you to get better context on individual relationships.

Dex CRM showing a contact timeline
Contact profile on Dex

Another bonus is their mobile app, which is a great addition for a Personal CRM.

Dex CRM Mobile App
Mobile app on Dex

However, Dex is noticeably lacking in a few important areas: mail merge (sending emails in bulk) and pipeline management. There is also no option to collaborate.

You can use Dex for free for 7 days before you will need to move to a paid plan.

3. Clay: The Superhuman of personal CRM tools, but missing important features

The third pick of our personal CRM tools list is Clay.earth, which presents itself as the Superhuman of Personal CRM apps.

It also lets you integrate contact data from multiple tools such as Gmail, LinkedIn, Google Calendar and more.

Clay CRM settings
Settings on Clay

The core of the system rests on the fact that it is a notification-based personal CRM with a daily brief about your personal relationships, including auto reminders.

Clay CRM daily brief
Dashboard on Clay

Clay offers standard contact cards with basic information such as notes, emails, reminders – helpful to manage personal relationships. A neat feature is the "related people" that displays on the top right-hand side of the screen.

Clay CRM contact card
Contact profile on Clay

The design is pretty slick and it comes with a dark mode. They also have a handy AI-based search. Otherwise, Clay personal CRM is pretty feature-poor, and it doesn't offer any contact apps on mobile for now, and no browser extension.

You can sign up and start using Clay with the free version.

4. Notion

Last but not least, we have Notion, which not so much a personal CRM as an all-in-one productivity platform that can be customized to imitate some CRM functions. Notion also offers integrations for various platforms, including Gmail and Slack, making it easy to keep all your workflows in one place.

Users love Notion for the flexibility and customization it offers, but it's not custom built to a be personal CRM: it's not integrated natively to communication tools, it's doesn't offer an API that works on social media like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram as other personal CRM do, and it doesn't offer mail merge options.

Notion CRM example
CRM on Notion

Notion works great for note-taking and document sharing but is still pretty limited as a Personal CRM.

You can start on Notion with the free version.


Managing your contacts can be a tedious and time-consuming process, but personal CRM software can help simplify things and streamline your workflow. When choosing a personal CRM, look for features like integrations, mail merge, and analytics to help you stay on top of your relationships and identify areas for growth. With any of our top picks – folk, Dex, Clay.earth, and Notion – you'll be well on your way to better contact management in no time.

More resources:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a personal CRM? 

If you often attend networking events and meet a lot of people, having your own CRM can help you stay on top of new and existing contacts. You’ll be able to use it to keep notes on a particular event you met someone at, create contact lists so you know who you still need to follow up with, keep an eye on when you last interacted with someone and more. 

Is a personal CRM worth it?

The short answer is yes. You don’t need to have a team to make a personal CRM worth it. Solopreneurs, investors, influencers and freelancers can make full use of one. Not only does building your own personal CRM help you create a single source of truth. folk supports multiple email domains from Gmail to Microsoft Outlook so you can use it to streamline your personal contact management. This way, you can also automate follow ups so you can say goodbye to all those outstanding follow ups you have left to go through.