I was off fishing for a week and so now it is back to work. That sucks (smile). Yesterday we launched our second networking group and it’s going to be a good one. What is very exciting to me is that this group will be able to develop based on the foundations and systems laid out by the first group while it is also creating the need for me to evaluate new tools and tweak existing ones. This will be of benefit to both groups as well as those that may come in the future. Right now I am pretty close to pulling the trigger on three applications ……..
Zoho CRM: We presently use the paid version of FreeCRM to track the lead opportunities generated by our Wednesday group. I like it and it works well. However, the monthly fees have doubled since we first started using it less than 2 years ago. And, the last major update to the program was last April. More important is that I am finding out that our members do not use all of the features that I had originally considered to be necessities. Finally, my understanding of our needs in this area has also evolved. Time to see what else is out there that might better fit our application.
I had looked at Zoho some time back and, looking at it yesterday, it would appear to fit our needs. It is actually a pretty nice interface and does allow for custom account record fields, custom report creation, and filtering by things like “date last modified”. We actually need two users for our purposes and Zoho offers up to three users for the low low price of $0.00 per month. Sweeeeet! Additionally, Zoho offers a suite of applications, most free, that may become beneficial in the future. My plan is to start our new group on this package and get the bugs worked out. Following that, I will migrate our existing group over from FreeCRM to Zoho. Last night I did a test export from FreeCRM and then did an import to Zoho and it worked perfectly. Here’s a screen shot, Sorry about the resolution:
Ning: With only one group, this site has worked just fine for our purposes. It would be very easy to set up an additional page for the new group that featured those members and their companies. However, I want each group to have not only their own separate page, I want to be able to place more emphasis on who they are and what they do. More personal things including blog feeds, photos, etc.. Finally, having the ability to collaborate privately vs. publicly, would also be a plus. WordPress is just not well suited for this application. Ning is. Turns out that Ning gives you the ability to develop your very own social network. And, it is slick! I ran across this via a connection on LinkedIn who operates a networking group in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I’m pretty pumped. You can use Ning for free if you will allow some fairly non-intrusive Google Ads. For $24.95/month you can get rid of those and even put in some ads of your own. For another $24.95/month you can rid yourself of Ning promotions and for $4.95/month you can use your own domain name. I understand that it is very easy to set up and will meet all of our needs. Necessity really is the mother of invention (smile). Click on the screen shot to go to NetworkInCDA’s site.
The future of this page: Once I have the Ning sites set up, this page will serve as a portal to the individual group sites, inform folks about the NetWorks! Boise system as a whole, continue to blog on Social and Business-Social media, and perhaps showcase other services that I am considering offering. The URL will remain the same but the page title will include “Sales Results LLC” which is the legal entity encompassing the “NetWorks! Boise” dba.
Google Wave: I am a little premature on this as selective invitations for this new application are just now going out today and I have yet to see one in my inbox (smile). I should have signed up for one sooner. These invitations are being sent out prior to the general Google Wave launch. However, from what I have seen and read, this thing potentially is a real game changer. Simply put, as I understand it, it will allow our group to collaborate in real time in a “email like” format. The key word here is “collaboration”. Let’s say that various members are all tracking on the same opportunity generated by one of our groups. Instead of conducting research totally independently, they will have the ability to privately collaborate their efforts with each other. Or, “Member A” wishes to connect with “Company B”. Somebody in the group probably knows someone at “Company B”. This will allow us to get the request for help out system wide, in privacy, in a timely manner. The possibilities for this tool are …. mind boggling! Mashable is great source to learn more. Click here to go to their most recent article and do a search for others.
Enough from me for today. Thanks for visiting!
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