You have your Google Contacts. And your LinkedIn Connections. And your Facebook Friends. And your Google+ People. And your Twitter Followers.
And they are all siloed, separate and un-integrated.
Personally, I find that frustrating.
It's not a huge issue, but wouldn't it be nice to have an integrated list of all your social media and email contacts? Of everyone you "know" online? That would form the basis of an excellent contact management system for both business and personal use - don't you think?
I liked that idea, so I decided to find an application that would integrate and synchronize all these different collections of people. It seemed the sort of thing that hundreds of thousands of people would want to do - which almost guarantees that someone, somewhere, would have set up such a service - hopefully offering it for free.
So I was quietly confident I'd get my connections integrated in next to no time.
But I was wrong.
Even though I managed to find three solutions....
- One is effectively defunct.
- One is a long way from critical-mass functionality.
- One would require me to sell a child in order to pay for it - which my wife objected to.
Incredible, don't you think, that there is no accessible solution to this?
But just as I was giving up on this little project, my mobile phone rang. At the end of the conversation I went through the process of adding the person to my phone's contact list - and there was my solution!
Free, already set up (bar some simple configuration) and working perfectly!
The built-in Contacts application on my Android-based Samsung Note includes - and automatically gets updated with - this list of contact sources:
- Google Contacts
- Google Plus People
- LinkedIn Connections
- Facebook Friends
- Skype Contacts (I forgot them!)
- Phone contacts (probably the most valuable of all!)
All I needed to do was add a few accounts and activate them.
Now, I know this is nothing new, and perhaps many of you already have this fully configured. I previously had it set up to auto-synchronize with Google Contacts and I always added new phone contacts as Google Contacts. Even though I was vaguely aware that there was more I could be doing, I was happy enough with my setup.
But now that I've configured it more fully, I'm very impressed with what is available with so little fuss - especially considering I can't find an equivalent for my laptop.
(I have no doubt that other smart-phone providers offer similar functionality.)
However, I DID want to have my integrated contacts on my laptop somewhere, so I did a little digging and very quickly found a simple solution that almost gives me exactly what I wanted in the first place.
I simply exported all my phone contacts to a file, and imported that file into Google Contacts.
This is how I did it:
I ended up with a LOT of duplicate entries, of course, but the merge facility sorted them out in seconds.
So what I now have (and you could too!) is contacts from ALL those sources (except Skype, for some reason) as Google Contacts - where I can very conveniently search them, add notes, allocate them to Groups, add additional information etc. - all of which will automatically get uploaded to my phone as well - because it automatically syncs with Google Contacts anyway.
This is the makings of a CRM/Contact Management tool that integrates ALL my key social media contacts - automatically.
The only thing missing is that contacts from LinkedIn and Facebook don't automatically get synchronized to my Google Contacts. Although they will automatically appear in the consolidated phone list, they don't appear in my consolidated Google Contacts list on my laptop. I would need to periodically manually export and import and merge, as I described above.
BUT - I'll be fixing the need to do that using other specialist tools. More on that later.
I hope you found this useful.
Let me know how you get on if you try this yourself.