How to Build a Personal CRM to Improve Your Relationships

What is a CRM?

According to Salesforce, customer relationship management (CRM) is a technology for managing all your company's relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. The goal is simple: Improve business relationships.

More than 150,000 businesses use Salesforce to keep track of relationships with customers and prospects, but few individuals are using a personal CRM to improve arguably the more important relationships in our personal lives. CRM software comes with a hefty price tag, however building a personal CRM to keep track of friends and stay in touch with your professional network is a completely free digital alternative to address books and Rolodexes .

The benefits of a personal CRM

Personal relationship management isn't new. For decades, salespeople have kept track of their most important contacts with a Rolodex, notes, or an address book. Creating a personal CRM is really just a digital extension of your brain, so you can remember the people, events, and phone numbers that matter to you. 

You might be thinking, "isn't that what my smartphone and social media are for?" Yes, you can keep track of contacts, phone numbers, and birthdays in your phone, but how easy is it to find all the people who work at a specific company and live near Denver, Colorado?

A personal CRM will help you be a better friend, colleague, and professional by organizing the people, places, and events that you can't afford to forget.

Here's how to to build a personal CRM step-by-step

For our own personal CRM, let's start with a blank Google Sheet. If you want a headstart make a copy of our personal CRM Google Sheet.

Pro Tip: If you're using Chrome type into the chrome browser to automatically create a blank Google Sheet.

Next, let's add column headers with all of the information we'd like to keep track of for our contacts. You can customize your personal CRM to meet your specific needs, but for this example, we will track these field:

  • Name - Contact's Legal Name
  • Tag - How you know them
  • Phone - Contact's primary phone number
  • Address - Contact's mailing address
  • Email - Contact's primary email address
  • Current Location - Contact's city and state
  • Current Company - Contact's employer
  • Last Contacted - Your last interaction with this contact
  • Overdue - How long it's been since your last interaction
  • Former Companies - Contact's former employers
  • LinkedIn URL - Contact's LinkedIn profile
  • Notes - Any additional information you want to remember
  • First Name - Contact's first name
  • Last Name - Contact's last name


Once you've set up your column headers your personal CRM should look pretty close to the following.

Now comes the most time-consuming step. Add in your personal contacts row by row. If you're looking to streamline this process, you can export your LinkedIn connections or Gmail contacts as a starting point. You can also just go through your text messages to see who you've talked to recently.

After filling out a few rows of information your personal CRM will start to take shape.

This digital address book doesn't require much customization beyond the contacts information, however, once column I customized was the Days Since Last Contacted or Overdue column. I added a formula to calculate how many days it's been since I last talked to this contact.

Here's the formula: =TODAY()-H2

Then I applied conditional formatting (Format > Conditional Formatting) in order to visually see who I need to catch up with. Select the color scale option under Conditional Format Rules. You can use whatever colors are meaningful to you, but I chose a basic green to red scale to represent my overdue contacts.

Finally, I sorted the personal CRM by Day Since Last Contacted and applied a filter to each column to make it easy to search for exactly the information I need. In 10 minutes I've created a personal CRM that's easy to sort, filter, and search for the exact contacts you need.

What you can do with a personal CRM

Although it's simple to create, using CRM tools like this database for contact management can have huge implications for your business and personal life. What if you got laid off and needed to find any friends or colleagues who've worked at specific companies you wanted to apply for? Or perhaps you're starting a business and trying to hire talented engineers with whom you have an existing relationship? There's no better place to start than your existing network, and although features of LinkedIn, Gmail, and Facebook can help, having one place where all of this information is stored can give you invaluable insights.

Once you've created a personal CRM you can do some amazing things with it like setting up a semi-automated email campaign using MixMax every few months to check in on old contacts and see how they're doing. Or automatically adding rows to this database with Zapier when you make new connections on LinkedIn. You could even send a text to a specific group of contacts asking for advice in a certain aspect of your life. 

Or if you want to combine the functionality of Google Sheets with the automation power of Zapier consider a visual workflow builder like Hivewire. In a single workplace, you can format your spreadsheet, build visual workflows, and automate processes for you and your team. Creating a personal CRM requires very little time and no expense, but the potential to create deeper relationships with your existing network is limitless.