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How to Manage Relationships Online Like a Pro (For Free)

How to Manage Relationships Online Like a Pro (For Free)

By Pat Flynn on

Relationship management is the idea of organizing the interactions that you have with other people.

It’s a simple idea, but it’s not simply implemented—especially as your blog, business and brand begin to flourish.

When I first started blogging it was very easy for me to remember who contacted me, when, and for what reason—mostly because contact with other people was few and far between and getting an email from a reader was a huge deal.

Now, emails from readers are still important to me but they come in much larger quantities (sometimes 100s a day) and there is no way I can easily remember the history of interaction with every single person.

This is why I get help from a very slick Gmail Application called Rapportive. It is, by far, the best thing I’ve discovered this year. A big thanks to my buddy Cliff from Podcast Answer Man for showing me this amazing tool.

What Rapportive Can Do

Rapportive creates a dynamic CRM (customer relationship management) tool in the sidebar of your gmail account.

*NOTE: You don’t have to have a account in order to use Rapportive, you just need to use Gmail to view your emails. I setup Google Apps for Free to manage emails for SPI through gmail.

Even if the people who email me are not exactly customers, I’d like to treat them as such because you never know—they could become one in the future (or at least refer some)—and using a tool to help build and nourish that relationship makes this much more possible. Plus, it just looks much more professional (and saves a lot of time) when you can easily recall information about a person in just a few seconds.

Here’s what I see when I view an email from Cliff Ravenscraft, for example:

Rapportive DashboardThis is shown right next to my email in the exact same window, which makes it extremely easy to see all kinds of things related to Cliff.

Who They Are

Rapportive pulls information from existing social network profiles to give a quick snapshot of who that person is. Even if you’re getting an email from a person for the first time, if they are connected to these networks you’ll see important information about that person.

You can use this information to help guide how you respond to that particular person, and just imagine if you include something you learned about them from Rapportive in your reply. You’ll look like you’re very on top of your game.

Quick story – one person emailed me asking for advice the other day and Rapportive showed me that he was an Ohio State Buckeyes fan. At the end of my reply, all I did was say “Go Buckeyes!” and within a couple of hours I received an email back from this person saying he was very impressed, and asking how I knew. Of course, I told him it was because of Rapportive.

If someone said “Go Bears!” to me a reply, it would definitely be a great first impression and something I would absolutely remember.

Social Network Activity

I know a lot of you are going to dig this.

Not only can I see this person’s latest activity on a ton of different social networks (there’s about 200 you can choose from), which could enhance my emails even further, but I can see if I’m connected to them or not—and if not I can immediately follow or friend them directly from Rapportive and expand my network.

This is exactly how I’ve been able to grow my LinkedIn account, which I’ve had for years but never did anything with. With the simple click of a button and nothing else, I’ve been able to create a ton of new connections.

Below, I’ve expanded the Facebook portion of Cliff’s rapportive dashboard to see what his latest post was, and I can even click on any links and comment on his post too.

Facebook on RapportivePrevious Emails and Shared Docs

Showing previous emails is something that most email clients do already, but having the titles show up here in the Rapportive Dashboard, again, is just super convenient so I don’t even have to do any work to find that information. I can click any of those emails to open them too in case I needed to refer back to them for a response.

Cliff and I also share a couple of Google Documents together, and having the ability to see what those documents are is great too. If you’re working with a number of people on various projects, and using Google Documents to manage things, I can see this being extremely helpful and an absolute time saver.

Email List Subscriber Data

If you’re building an email list, you can integrate your email service provider (such as Aweber or MailChimp—others will follow soon) to see if this person is subscribed to any of your lists.

If you click on the list name you can see exactly when it was they subscribed and the last email in your follow-up sequence they received too.

This. Is. Amazing.

Here’s what it looks like:

Aweber on RapportiveImagine—if you notice a person isn’t subscribed to your list, you can simply ask them in your reply to sign up if you feel it will benefit them.

If you wanted to get super slick, you could use a tool like Text Expander to easily type in a few letters which would then automatically insert pre-written copy asking a person to subscribe to your newsletter, with all of the appropriate links.

If a person is already subscribed, you can see where they’re at in your autoresponder sequence and talk about that briefly in your reply too.

For example, for the person above I could say, “I hope you liked my newsletter about Surprise ’em Marketing. Please let me know if you have any more questions about it. If not—I hope you like the next one which is all about how to use LinkedIn”—or something like that.

Adding Notes

My absolute favorite part about Rapportive, in addition to all of these awesome things I already covered, is the ability to add notes about a person.

At the bottom of the Rapportive dashboard, there’s a text field that I can use to write down anything I want.

Often times, when I get an email, I’ll jot down 4 or 5 words in this text field so that if this person emails me again in the future, I can refer back to it.


Someone emails me asking for advice about his new blog. I quickly just write down “Asked for advice about”.

In the future, I get an email again from this person in regards to something else. I am reminded that this person asked for advice about and I just ask in my reply how has been progressing.

It’s the little things like this that can totally change how a person perceives your brand and interacts with you in the future.

If you sell products, a simple note that describes what the customer purchased can help you see what else they may be interested in down the line too.

What Rapportive Cannot Do

Rapportive is just a tool—it doesn’t replace the fact that you still have to engage and reply to emails in order for this to be effective.

You still have to be a real person.

As I mentioned in SPI Podcast Session #26, the relationships that you build with your audience and those in the same space as you are vital to your growth and success. Rapportive, I’ve found, has made building these relationships with people much, much easier.

Do you use Rapportive, and if so, how do you like it? If not, what are you doing to help manage the relationships you build?

Enjoy your week, and I wish you all the best!


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