Those of us who make a living by making things happen (i.e. who hustle) know that it is a people game. All of the tools in the world won't beat the chemistry and aligned motivation that come from creative win/win deal-making. The tools are like a hammer for a carpenter. You have to have them, but carpenters are not defined by their tools. However, something substantively different is happening online at the tool level, thanks to social media.

A good carpenter with a power drill will beat a good carpenter using muscle alone. A bad carpenter with a power drill is, of course, just a dangerous maniac! But we don't really have the equivalent of a power drill yet. We can see bits of it, but it is like having a drill, motor and battery that no one has put together. The pieces that make up this hustler's power drill are: email + CRM + LinkedIn + Twitter.

"Hi, I Just Sent You a Wave. Can You Check and Respond"

Standards matter. In five years time, we may all be using Google Wave, but for now the Wave beta testers get voice mails, emails and other messages saying, "Hi, I just sent you a Wave. Can you check and respond?"

That does not help productivity (understatement alert).

Whatever is wrong with email, one thing about it is totally right. It is a standard that almost everyone uses.

So, email is the drill. It is the basic component. Don't even think about working without it. You can use email to close a deal and to get a phone and/or face-to-face meeting.

Keep a Good Record of Who Said What in Those Emails

My personal CRM system of choice is Relenta, precisely because it is so email-centric. Many other people prefer to unlink these and use Gmail (or Outlook for the late adopters) and then integrate a separate CRM system. I still use Gmail as my back-up service.

But CRM has lagged behind the social media wave. Most CRM systems do not record the conversations that take place outside of email, the ones that happen on LinkedIn, Twitter and Skype (or, for those who like it, Facebook: for what it's worth, I never caught the Facebook bug and see no reason to start using it now; I aim to be the last person on the planet not using Facebook).

The messaging fragmentation caused by these alternative proprietary messaging systems is a significant productivity drain. ("Heck, which system did I use to talk to Bill about the discount code?")

Add LinkedIn for "Who Do I Know Who Can Connect Me To...?"

LinkedIn serves two essential functions:

  1. It is a self-updating Rolodex. Once I have added someone on LinkedIn, I know I will have their updated contact details whenever they move to another job.
  2. It answers the age-old hustler's question, "Who do I know who can connect me to so-and-so?"

But I do not view LinkedIn as a destination site. I avoid communicating via its messaging system whenever possible and I don't check it. I simply want access to the data: my updated contacts and their relationships in my power drill. That is not LinkedIn's business model. It has been accused of being a roach motel. So, it may end up disappointing me, and I may have to find a service that does something clever with my Gmail contacts file.

What I want in my CRM system is something that shows:

  1. For individuals, what recent status updates have they sent out?
    Note, this is "Just-in-time," not real time. I do not want to be pinged every time every one of my contacts does something. I might look at that stream occasionally when I am in flow mode; but when I am in hustle mode, I don't want the distraction. But when I am about to email or call someone, it would be great to be able to scan recent updates about them. ("Hi, Bill. Congrats on doing [whatever cool thing Bill just did]. How does this impact what we are working on?") And I want this stream from whatever service the person actually uses: LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. Services already exist that aggregate these, but that would be yet one more destination site. What I want is that stream integrated in my CRM.
  2. For companies, who else do I know at a certain company, and who else do I know who knows important people there?
    If I am pitching the CIO about something that relates to marketing automation , who do I know who knows the CMO?
  3. The strength of my relationship with second-degree contacts.
    LinkedIn is useful for second-degree contacts ("Who do I know who knows so-and-so?") Anything further out on the social graph is practically useless. But even second degree is useless if your LinkedIn contact database has been polluted by a lot of casual contacts. If I want connect to Fred, trying to do it via Bill is probably not worth it if I had only a 30-second email relationship with Bill 18 months ago. But my email and CRM systems know the strength of my relationships with contacts, or a reasonable estimation thereof, based on the frequency of my email interaction with them.

Add Twitter for Flow

Hustle and flow. You need both. Hustle is directed, focused activity (e.g. contact so-and-so and get them to commit to doing x, y or z). Flow is a relaxed state of ambient awareness that alerts you to new opportunities. (You could also add "Create," giving you: Hustle, flow, create. In create mode, you "switch off all electronic devices." But that, as they say, is another story.)

CRM and LinkedIn are about hustle. Twitter is about flow.

I avoid using Twitter DM. Twitter is great for flow, but lousy for hustle. Twitter DM only adds to messaging fragmentation and has been polluted by spam. For now, @bernardlunn mode is useful, but methinks spammers will ruin that soon, too. But the basic Twitter service is perfect. I follow until I decide to unfollow. No one can spam that.

It is a great research tool. Find someone who writes well on a subject, and then see who they follow. New services will take this basic idea to the next level. The one that might do this best is Aardvark.

The integration we need is not another Twitter client for people who live in the Twitter flow. It is integration of this flow with the traditional hustle tools of email and CRM.

Specifically, I want to see in my CRM system the Twitter flow of my contact, what they are writing about and who they are communicating with. If they have DM'ed me, I want to see that in my CRM.