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The Futureforth Blog

Helpful tips and articles about social media strategy, content marketing, and business networking. 

Filtering by Tag: apps

Three Services to Help Manage Your Time

Dave Delaney

If you run a small business you know how difficult it can be to keep up. Heck, even if you run a large business or work for one, keeping up can be challenging. The following are three services I use to keep my head from spinning off my neck. Combined, they help me manage my email, calendar and time. They will help you, too.

How to manage your time

1. Outlook

Wow, Outlook has come a long way. This slick app from your friends at Microsoft is the best email app I have found. It has many bells and whistles, but the killer feature for me is the ability to schedule messages to return to my inbox later.

Let's say I get an email today from someone who doesn't need a reply until next week. I simply slide the message to the right to schedule it to return. The default options are: in a few hours; this evening; tomorrow morning; choose a time.

This helps me keep my sanity and my inbox manageable. We all forget to reply to messages from time to time. Outlook reminds me, which is crucial when running your own business.

You can download it for free from your favorite app store. Plus, it works with all email clients.

2. Sunrise

Sunrise is a mobile and desktop application that manages my calendar. When someone wants to have a meeting with me, I open the Sunrise app on my iPhone (available for Android too) and select several dates using their creative keyboard tool. It temporarily turns your keyboard into your calendar.

I simply tap onto several blocks of time in the calendar that I am available. This instantly creates a link that I can include in a text message or email reply.

The recipient clicks the link and is presented with the times I am available. They click the time that works for them, and it is magically booked. I get an email confirmation that the meeting has been set.

You can download this free app from www.sunrise.am

3. Calendly

I reserve chunks of time each week for my coaching clients and for informational coffee chats. I use Calendly to block these times on my calendar.

When you configure Calendly, you tell it when you are available. It syncs with your calendar, so if something else comes up, the time is no longer available. I have a couple of different Calendly calendars, so I send the correct link to my clients, so they can click it to see my calendar and to select a time that is most suitable for them.

When they book a time, I get an email notification. I then use Outlook to set that email to return to my inbox closer to our meeting time, so I can prepare and be ready for our call or coffee.

While Sunrise is better for on-the-fly scheduling, Calendly syncs with my calendar to show people when I am available on certain days. All I need to do is send them the specific link to my calendar and they can go ahead and book what works best for them.

You can set up your account at Calendly.com.

These three services help keep my busy life sane. The more time I save, the more I can focus it on serving my clients and preparing for new speaking engagements. I hope these help you, too.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean newspaper. Photo by By Rodion Kutsaev from Unsplash.

Refresh: The Ice Breaker App

Dave Delaney

Refresh app
Refresh app

UPDATE: Don't miss my interview with Refresh Co-founder and CEO, Bhavin Shaw. A quick Google search for "business networking apps" revealed 818,000 results! It's clear that busy, business people are seeking ways to network more effectively with their mobile devices. Besides LinkedIn's own apps that improve networking, I have come across one that really stands out, Refresh.

Refresh is an app unlike any other, because it provides you with enough details about a person to start a conversation. It is the ultimate ice-breaker tool!

By installing the app and giving it access to your social networking profiles and address book, it quickly learns details about everyone you know (and even those you don't know). Sync it with your calendar, and Refresh will send you a dossier using it's "insight engine" before your next meeting.

Let's say I have a meeting scheduled with the Tennessean's very own Lance Williams tomorrow. I can expect an email alert to be sent from Refresh today. I ran this as a test, and the email I received included the following information.

  • Lance has been working at the Tennessean for a little over one year. It includes other businesses where Lance has worked and provides me with additional details.
  • Who Lance's significant other is.
  • His birthday is April 10th, and he shares it with celebrity, Shay Mitchell. He also shares it with three of my contacts.
  • It includes politicians Lance follows, which gives me insight into his likely political party of choice. Never assume anything though.
  • He attended the University of Kentucky.
  • His LinkedIn summary says he has more than a decade of professional journalism experience as both a reporter and an editor. His current emphasis is on business journalism, but he has experience with criminal justice, governmental issues, and public reporting.
  • He lives in Tennessee and has also lived in Kentucky and Ohio.
  • It provides me with news articles Lance was mentioned in.
  • Refresh says, "Ask Lance about this (Facebook) status post, "So, University of Kentucky basketball fans, I was editing a business story and came across the best engineering firm name in history Anderson Deik Epps, & Associates".
  • Refresh also suggests I ask Lance about his check-in at the Nashville Sounds where he said, "Guess which girl is bored with baseball already."
  • I can see my first and most recent email correspondences with Lance.
  • It shows me 27 contacts that Lance and I both have in common.
  • It shares "Moments", which include popular Twitter tweets from Lance.
  • Refresh provides me with plenty of sports topics Lance has shared on social networks.
  • I can see photos Lance has shared recently.
  • The app also includes links to each of Lance's social networking profiles.

"Well, this sounds a little invasive."

I know what you may be thinking, "Well, this sounds a little invasive." It's not. All of the information gathered has been shared publicly by the person, and it is extremely valuable.

What if Lance was a potential client? Wouldn't I want to know as much about him as possible before our meeting? Refresh's meeting dossier provides enough information for me to make a comfortable icebreaker. The first chapter of my book, New Business Networking, is all about doing your homework first. C-level executives and politicians have always received meeting dossiers, now we can have them too.

The company has recently developed an app for Google Glass, so you will receive the information as you are looking at the person. Straight away, I picture Terminator looking for Sarah Connor in the 1984 classic film. At least this time, no tragic mistakes will occur.

According to a TechCrunch article by Ryan Lawler, Refresh has seven employees with experience from companies like LinkedIn, Google, and Microsoft. They have recently received 10 million in funding from Redpoint Ventures, Charles River Ventures, and Foundation Capital; so expect Refresh to stick around.

Taking the time to get to know a person before you meet is a great way to kick-start your conversation. It can also earn you the respect of the person you're meeting with, because they will be impressed that you took the time to do some research. Little will they know that it was all thanks to a single app.

Refresh promises to put an end to small talk. It is available for free for iPhone, iPad, and Google Glass. An Android version is coming soon. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

This article, “Refresh app is ultimate icebreaker“, originally appeared in The Tennessean newspaper.

42 Productivity Tips and Apps from PodCamp Nashville

Dave Delaney

Photo by: Emily SandfordI had the good fortune of opening PodCamp Nashville today with a session entitled, Naked Productivity. I'll show you mine if you show me yoursHere is how I described the session on the PodCamp Nashville site.

A roundtable discussion for all attendees to show and tell their best productivity tips, apps, techniques, hacks, and tools.

We all get overwhelmed staying on task each day. I should be doing three other things as I write this description. Naked Productivity will be an easy way for all attendees to contribute to the session.

This isn't a canned presentation. It's an opportunity for all of us to share the best ways we stay productive. Attendees will come away with a head full of new ideas to improving the way we focus on the daily To Do's and life hacks.

The purpose of the session was for all of us to learn from one another. The session was a huge success thanks to the amazing people who attended. As I mentioned afterward, it would have sucked if I had an empty room, or worse, a dead crowd. If you were present thank you for being there.

42 Productivity Tips and Apps from PodCamp Nashville

I encouraged friends on Twitter to also chime in with their favorite productivity apps and tips using the hashtag #PCN13Naked. You can see all of the tweets at the end of this post.

The following is a list of items mentioned during the presentation. Here are 42 productivity tips and apps to help you gain control of your life:

  1. Create a work week and a physical environment where your kids understand that you are working.
  2. To Do Lists: Writing a physical list and the satisfaction of striking items off of it.
  3. Write your list the night before.
  4. Break each item down into smaller chunks.
  5. Clear - Realmac Software
  6. Asana for project management
  7. Trello for project management, because it has a better overall dashboard
  8. Evernote
  9. Sabina Nawaz’s This Space Intentionally Left White
  10. Use driving time to drive in silence and record audio notes to yourself.
  11. Reqall is a To Do list app that you can phone. Transcriptions come from your messages.
  12. Soundcloud. You can record and leave yourself private messages.
  13. Bernie Goldbach's battle with attention crash.
  14. Use a $5.00 glass screen window on your office wall as a whiteboard.
  15. Use colors to indicate what's what. Green = money. Red = urgent.
  16. Use your bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker
  17. Producteeve ties into your email. You can email yourself to do list items.
  18. Wunderlist for lists
  19. Alfred app will interface with other applications and pass data from them.
  20. Fantastical - you can speak your calendar events and it will add them. It syncs with iOS calendar as well
  21. Boomerang for Gmail to push old messages back to the top of your inbox later.
  22. ActionMethod for creative thinkers.
  23. Michael Hyatt's "My Ideal Day" spreadsheet
  24. Use a week long spreadsheet with numbers of tasks to do each. Keep a tally.
  25. Pinterest: download daily tasks sheet.
  26. Drink lots of water!
  27. Howler countdown timer (Mac)
  28. Use iPhone timer
  29. Pomodorro Technique (mentioned in three sessions during PodCamp)
  30. Chronos time tracking app. http://www.getchronos.com/
  31. Sunrise app works with Google Calendar and hooks you into Facebook and G+
  32. Paper calendars work too!
  33. iCal with multiple calendars. 1 calendar dedicated to different tasks. Use the calendars to log your work to track and search later.
  34. Freshbooks for invoicing
  35. Track your time you do for each job using Office Time software.
  36. Billings Touch app for invoicing and tracking your work
  37. Don't forget about your life goals.
  38. What good tools (Apollo) are one-in-all solution?
  39. RescueTime tracks time spend on your computer by what software or social networking you are using.
  40. Zapier plugs into service APIs. It's like Alfred.
  41. Follow up with people you meet. Record audio notes from your meetings.
  42. CardMunch app for scanning cards with LinkedIn.

Be sure to leave a comment with your favorite productivity tips and apps please. Thanks again to the volunteers, organizers, sponsors, and attendees or PodCamp Nashville. Today was a HUGE success!

Photo by Emily Sandford.

5 Ways to Use the LinkedIn Contacts App

Dave Delaney

LinkedIn Contacts appLinkedIn recently introduced it's latest service and app, LinkedIn Contacts (iOS). I have been using it this evening and I'm really impressed. If you have received an invite to try it follow the next steps to begin. Step 1. Install and log in to the app. It's only available for iPhone at this time, but an Android version is coming.

Step 2. Take a tour of LinkedIn Contacts while it imports your connections.

Step 3. Add sources like your phone address book, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Outlook, etc.

I found five ways you can use LinkedIn Contacts to improve your networking efforts.

1. Check the To Do section for notifications. These are contacts who have recently changed jobs. Use the app as a way to quickly send a note to congratulate your connection on his or her new gig. It will also let you know who is having a birthday!

2. Are you stranded in a city over night? Or do you have some down time visiting a new town? Use Locations to find connections you have there. Reach out and set up a coffee or lunch.

3. Check the Newly Added section to see your most recent connections. Have you followed up with them since connecting?

4. Use the Recent Conversation part of the app to see who you have connected with recently. Are you due to follow up?

5. Write a private note about a contact. This is perfect after meeting with them in person. Note how you can help them and personal information you learned from your meeting. You can also add how you met in a separate private note, this includes who introduced you.

Have you tried LinkedIn Contacts yet? What do you think?

Record Audio Notes

Dave Delaney

I have written before about the importance of meeting people for coffee to improve your networking efforts. I always follow up with a Thank You email and invitation to connect via LinkedIn. I have been guilty in the past of not recording any notes from my coffee meetings which is a big mistake on my part. Do you take notes and refer to them later?

I recently started using my iPhone to record audio notes after each meeting. I limit my notes to no more than 5 minutes tops. I use the iTalk app, but the Voice Recorder or Evernote would be smart choices too. I always title the name of the recording with the person's name who I met.

Some points for my notes include:

  • Who the person is.
  • Where they work.
  • What they do for a living.
  • What they want to do for a living.
  • How I may be able to help them.
  • Resources I should refer to that they mentioned.
  • How they may be able to help me.
  • When I should follow up.

When I return to my computer, I listen to the audio and transcribe the notes. I mark my calendar in Gmail to remind me when I should follow up.

Do you do this too? How do you keep track of the people you meet?

Photo from Flickr by: yum9me

Wannado. How iPhone Apps Can Help With Networking.

Dave Delaney

Steven BuhrmanI first met Steven Buhrman from my work with the popular Nashville business accelerator, Jumpstart Foundry. He has been tirelessly working for the last year on his events app, Wannado. I finally got to give Wannado a test drive recently and I'm very impressed. This blog is all about the intersection between traditional business networking and how technology enhances our efforts in building relationships.

Steven has built a wonderful app, Wannado, to help us find local events to meet new people and to grow our business networks.

D. Who are you what do you do?

S. My name is Steven Buhrman. Like many Nashvillians, I'm a proud transplant. I moved here from Northern California about a year and a half ago and quickly found a home in Nashville's growing tech & start-up scene. Since moving here, I've been working with folks throughout the community to create Wannado.

Wannado AppD. What is Wannado?

S. Wannado is an iPhone app that let's us discover Nashville's best events and experiences from the vantage of our personal interests.  Kind of like "Pandora" or "Spotify" but for local happenings.  The app lets us tune in to the stuff we care about, and tune out the rest.  It's also a streamlined way to keep up with what local guides and Facebook friends "wannado". The goal is to end the days of saying, "I wish I knew about that", whether that's a live show, a chance to do good in the community, or a career opportunity.

The key is to leverage the power of mobile technology to feed real world relationships and create new opportunities for ourselves.

D. How does it improve business networking objectives?

S. Wannado's "Work & Network" channels allow us to tune into the local business networking events that matter to us personally. So for instance, I'm a tech entrepreneur, so Wannado feeds me recommendations for all the start-up, geek & techie events in Nashville.  I also use Wannado to follow local tech gurus like Mark Montgomery, Chris McIntyre, Marcus Whitney...and yes, even Dave Delaney! So I'll never miss another Geek Breakfast or Nashcocktail because I didn't know about it...

D. In your opinion, how do mobile applications in general help networking?

S. Our lives are more mobile and transient than ever, so I think the key is to leverage the power of mobile technology to feed real world relationships and create new opportunities for ourselves.  I'm a bit idealistic on this point, because I believe that opportunity is everywhere.  The problem is we can't always see it because the marketplace is crowded and events are fleeting. Mobile apps can help us capture these moments and make the most of them.  That's our mission at Wannado - to make opportunities visible to the right people at the right time.

D. Which other apps would you recommend a savvy networking person use?

S. I'm a big fan of "Sparrow" which is basically a $1.99 upgrade for your native iOS Email app.  I also recommend "Alfred" as a super smart way to browse local bars and restaurants based on your interests.

Thanks Steven.

Now it's your turn

Which apps do you use to enhance your networking efforts?

How to Keep Connected Using LinkedIn

Dave Delaney

LinkedIn Job Notifier Roger Lee has created a fantastic free service to track your LinkedIn contacts job changes. Whether a person has been promoted or changed businesses, this is a fantastic way to keep in touch.

Visit JobChangeNotifier.com and connect it with your LinkedIn account. Then scroll through your network to choose who you wish to track. It's easy. Once you have this set up, you will receive an email alerting you of a job change.

The next step is important

Be sure to reach out to your contact to congratulate them directly. Send them an email or call them. Perhaps you are due for a lunch or coffee to learn more about the new role and to catch up in person.

Remember networking is a two-way street. Ask how you can help others before you ask for something.

An Interview with Julien Smith

Dave Delaney

Julien SmithJulien Smith defines himself as a guy who makes interesting stuff that people spread all over the internet. While this is true, there is a whole lot more to Julien. Julien co-authored the New York Times best-selling book, Trust Agents with Chris Brogan. He most recently published his free eBook, The Flinch, as a part of Seth Godin's Domino Project. His latest book, The Impact Equation, co-authored with Brogan will be available in October.

I have known Julien since 2006, as an early podcaster. I invited Julien to an interview on New Networking to learn more about his thoughts and tips on business networking.

D - Thanks for joining me Julien. How do you define "networking"?

J - Networking is now an unusable term. I think what you mean is "connecting with people on purpose". As you do this, the value of your knowledge assets expands so it can help others, and likewise for them.

D's Note: I believe networking is still an important term (just look at the name of this site). I agree with Julien's sentiment. However, in order for us to learn from one another about networking, we need to give it a name.

D - In Trust Agents, you included Jeff Pulver's famous quote, "You live or die by your database." How do you keep your database organized?

J - I actually let Google organize it. It goes into my massive Gmail archive and is immediately searchable. But the way I follow up is through lots of organized to-do lists and reminders. I use Action Method and RE.minder for iPhone. They make my life so much easier.

D - Did networking come naturally to you? How have you learned to do it better?

J - The thing was that I always knew I had to meet people because I began in media. When I thought about how to get my podcast known, I knew that meeting other podcasters would mean they would talk about me and my show, so I did it. And since it was working, I would keep doing it, and I kept doing it all the way to where I am right now (and will continue to forever).

It was always hard for me to meet people, but it always made sense, so I kept going.

D - I expect you meet tons of people by speaking at conferences and on your book tours. How do you remember people's names?

J - I admit I have a tendency not to, but what I tend to do to help myself is I repeat people's names immediately after meeting them. Sometimes I do it twice. Also I ask for people's cards. And then I fundamentally seek out something interesting about the person that I can remember. This makes it a lot easier.

D - You wrote an inspirational book called The Flinch. How does it apply to introverted people who may be too shy to attend an event?

J - You'll notice that people are never intimidated by talking to people that they like, so the real problem with meeting people is that they have difficulty finding comfortable ways to talk to them and like them. But if you learn to do this, and find things you like in each person, it becomes easy.

The key is to find interest markers in each person

I only recently discovered that I don't ask enough about people when I meet them. I tended to drive conversation without asking about themselves--but I've stopped that now, and I now ask questions. We get to more interesting places because of it. But fundamentally, the key is to find interest markers in each person, and speak to the good parts of that person-- the parts you're interested in.

D - Do you have any final thoughts you would like to share about networking?

J - Network building has to be done consistently, whether you feel like it or not. In the long term, it's one of the most valuable things you can do, but it's only after you've done it a while that you see that. So it's tempting to quit, but you shouldn't. You'll see why later.

D - Thank you for the interview Julien. Where can people find you?

J - People can find me at In Over Your Head.

A Must Have iPad App for Networking

Dave Delaney

LinkedIn iPad appLinkedIn recently released their free LinkedIn iPad app that is an essential business networking tool. Gina Baldassarre from Dynamic Business writes:

The key feature of the app is the new calendar sync, which syncs with your device’s calendar to help make meetings run smoothly. The calendar sync has also been made available on the LinkedIn iPhone and Android apps.

The app works by pulling information from the LinkedIn profiles of the professionals attending your meetings to help you learn more about them, whether it be about their work experience, education, or any interests.

Read her full article here.

To learn more about the power behind the LinkedIn app, be sure to read Jolie O'Dell's story from VentureBeat.

Are we connected on LinkedIn yet? Find me here.