πŸ“ Bringing back the "Personal"​ in Personal CRM

April 20, 2021

The Personal CRM's anti-manifesto

TL;DR: One-size-fits-all solutions don't work when it comes to contacts. Contacts are multi-layered, living objects. And the relationships each one holds is unique. With Folk, we're creating a flexible framework to turn contacts list into a productivity tool the way that works for you.

Your network is your net worth

It's common wisdom that your network is your net worth. Relationships are your most valuable asset: opportunities, introductions, partnerships, PR, hiring, fundraising - to name just a few - can be unlocked by activating your network. So it comes as no surprise that the search for a solution to better manage relationships is so widespread.

In short, the way people currently manage their network is short-term. They only turn to their network to answer their immediate needs. This approach yields few results: the lack of a comprehensive, deliberate effort to maintain relationships is at fault. Could technology be the answer to better track interactions across multiple channels and better nurture relationships? Perhaps. Folks keep asking Twitter about the mythical Personal CRM. The pain is so real they even try bootstraping homemade solutions using a combination of Zapier, Notion, or Airtable. Is the personal CRM really the silver bullet to end networking woes?

Why you shouldn't look for a Personal CRM

If the idea of a Personal CRM is appealing on a hypothetical level, no one wants to track relationships like data on a spreadsheet. Or dictate their reach out through if-this-then-that style logic. Or send automated "happy birthday", "congrats on the new job", or "it's been one year since we last spoke" messages to their networks. The Personal CRM, considered in the cold light of day, simply isn't the answer as it will compromise on the depth of your relationships

  • Contacts aren't simple data points. They are multi-layered objects. The full spectrum of contact-related information includes: contact details, background, job, last interaction, and a handful of topics that they are relevant for (like expertise, School alumni, or Friends in SF). Spreadsheets can't render this complexity.
  • Contacts are a living data object. Relationships grow through interaction. A static list of emails, phone numbers, and names that is disconnected from your communication channels is of little use, as are native address books on your phone. Spreadsheets aren't designed to be multi-directional. And they can't possibly keep up with real life.
  • Your network is unique. Your relationships are unique. There is no single way to manage a network. Or even a single way to manage a relationship. With little customization, spreadsheet - or an improved "Personal CRM" - is not fit for purpose.

Trying to capture the complexity of contacts using generic software is a near impossible task. Contacts aren't neat and orderly. They can't be fit into columns. They can't be stored in a static repository. And they can't be managed in a one-size-fits-all solution.

But it gets worse... The truth behind the phrase "Personal CRM" is multi-faceted. Every single person has their own idea of what an ideal Personal CRM should be and should do. The buzzword hides many different needs - like here, here or here - that no single product could possibly address.

Getting personal

Before anything, a Personal CRM needs to be, well, personal. The way you manage your relationships is unique. No one wants their social interactions to be dictated by the tool they use. Pre-defined workflows are a no-no.

Second, a Personal CRM is the anti-CRM. What sales people are looking for when setting up a CRM is to make sure their sales process are framed with very clear steps to be rigorously followed by all their teammates. But when it comes to managing your personal network, the last thing you need is a single, funnel-like approach to contacts.

So we decided to build Folk unlike existing tools - whether it be spreadsheets or an actual CRM:

  • Folk is contact-centric. We think contacts should be treated differently from other types of data, and built Folk around the challenges that are unique to manipulating contact data.
  • Folk is a dynamic repository for contacts. Contact management can generate a lot of data entry and repetitive tasks. We imagined Folk as a way to automatically synchronize your contacts in real-time from all your sources and activate your contacts through our integrations with your favorite communication tools. It was also natural to make Folk collaborative. We believe managing your network can be a multiplayer experience - so long as it doesn't infringe on the individual's privacy. We designed Folk to reflect this complexity, allowing users to share subsets of their network based on their needs.
  • Folk is fully-customizable. Folk is flexible. Instead of pre-defined workflows, systematic reminders, and standardized contact cards, we want to empower users to build an experience that makes sense for them.

Superpowers for contact management

Our goal is to bring the power of a productivity tool, and automate what can be, while allowing our users to adapt folk to their specific needs. You'll feel as if it was tailor-made for you to help you do more with your network, with less efforts. To give you superpowers.

In our vision, a personal CRM is only a start for our users. Networking can become a multi-player game, and it was then very natural for us to shape Folk with built-in collaboration features. It’s not simply a powerful personal CRM designed for you, we go further and we've built a contact management solution for your team.

The challenge is real, and we're putting all of our efforts towards building the best contact management experience ever made. If you'd like to apply to our closed beta, you can request priority access here.


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