Alright, this is where things start to get super fun (especially if you’re into nerdy tech stuff like I am).
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. It's a category of software built mainly for sales teams, but it's also the secret weapon of ambitious networkers and tribe builders such as yourself.
In essence, a CRM gives you a couple of superpowers when it comes to your network.
You can set dates to follow up with people to keep building the relationship. That way, nobody important slips through the cracks.
You can tag and categorize people, which is useful when you need, say, a producer for a project, or you want a list of all the actors you know.
You can make notes with each contact to remember small details. When you're following up with someone, asking them how their cat is, or how their project turned out, will make you stand out in a good way.
Put another way, CRMs give you the ability to focus on building relationships with a lot of people, without having to remember absurd amounts of stuff, which is exactly what we need to do when building a tribe.
If you follow the processes I'm going to show you in the coming lessons, you will be meeting a lot of new people. This will help you keep track of them all, and build relationships with the right ones.
What You Need from Your CRM
In a bit, I'm going to make one specific recommendation for CRM tools. It’s something I build specifically for students of this course.
But truth is, you can use anything for your CRM. You don't need a fancy tool.
You can use a spreadsheet, a physical notebook, or even a basic text file. As long as you've got a system that works for you, that you can stick with, and that gives you the information you need, you're good to go.
But that brings up an important question. What information do you need from your CRM to be able to build a tribe?
Here are a few things I believe are essential.
Like I mentioned, you're going to meet a lot of new people through this process. And while all of these new people have the potential to be collaborators, only a small handful will become members of your tribe.
That's why your CRM should keep track of the following statuses.
Potential tribe member
Person to avoid
You could go even simpler than that, just having two categories—tribe member and potential tribe member—but as your database fills with people, you'll want the ability to sort and manage them in different ways.
Filmmaking is inherently about people with different skillsets coming together to work towards a larger goal. Without each individual skill being present, the film won’t be as good as it could be.
That’s why I recommend you set up a series of tags for each of the disciplines and skills required to make a film. And as you meet people and especially as you work with them, make sure their contact is updated with the right skills.
That way, as your database grows, you'll be able to find all producers, DPs, editors, actors, etc at a glance, instead of having to remember what people do off the top of your head.
Also, this comes in handy when someone asks you for collaborator recommendations. If they need a DP, all you have to do is go to your trusty CRM to see who's a good fit for this referral.
Follow Up Reminders
Building relationships takes time, and it takes repeated contact.
That's why you want your CRM to keep track of when you last contacted someone, and when you should follow up next.
Again, you can do this in a gazillion different ways, ranging from a physical notebook all the way to fancy automated CRM software. All that matters here is that you'll actually stick to the system you choose.
One of the most important things you can do as you're networking is to listen for small bits of information, stuff you can reference and ask about in your followups.
Trust me, just the act of active listening in your conversations will make people feel special (more about this later).
But when you actually remember the things people told you about, and you ask about those things months later, people will be blown away by how awesome you are.
It's one of those small things that will set you apart from the vast majority of people trying to "network." And the best part is, you don't need crazy good memory to pull this off because your CRM acts as your second brain.
Tech Options for Your CRM
Alrighty, now let’s get to the fun tech stuff!
Like I mentioned, most CRM software is built for sales teams. Which means it generally has way more functionality than we need to manage our personal network and build a tribe.
Yet for some reason, the category of personal CRMs—tools designed to build your personal network—seems to be a struggling one. Every time I find an app I like, it goes out of business. It's happened twice now. And I’m grumpy about it.
That’s why the main app I chose here is almost assuredly not going out of business. And the backup app I chose is solid as well. They’re enterprise pieces of software that just so happen to be useful as a personal CRM.
Anyhow, here are the options I recommend.
Airtable - The Custom Film Tribe CRM
This my highest recommendation. It's called Airtable, and it's basically a database/spreadsheet tool on steroids, but like 100x sexier.
I'm traditionally not a fan of spreadsheets (they make my artist brain freak out), but Airtable is the bee's knees. The main thing I like is that it gives you so many different ways to filter and visualize your data, which becomes insanely useful as the database grows larger.
Let's say you only want to see cinematographers who are potential tribe members, and who you haven't followed up with in awhile. With Airtable, it's super easy to filter down to only those people.
That's why I went ahead and built a “Film Tribe CRM” template for you. Partly because I think you’re awesome for buying this course, but also because I want to make this process as painless as possible. This template has everything you need to building your tribe and doing strategic outreach.
So here’s what you should do now.
Start an Airtable account. It’s free, and their free plan will be more than enough for most people.
Once you have an account, click here to check out my Film Tribe CRM template. In the upper right hand corner, you should see a button that says “Copy Base.” Click that, and you my friend now have a CRM up and running.
Once you do that, then check out this tutorial I put together for you showing you the basics of Airtable and the Film Tribe CRM template.
Obviously you can go in, play around a little bit, tweak things to your liking, and get it set up exactly how you want. But the template should work for most people straight out of the box.
Oh, and one last thing. You'll want to also download the Airtable mobile app. It'll be your companion as you're out networking. This’ll make it easy to add people to your CRM right after you've met them.
The other option I'm going to recommend is a platform called HubSpot.
It's 100% built for sales teams, but their CRM is free and pretty simple to use, and it won't hammer you over the head with excessive features.
Though I still think Airtable is your best bet, this is the tool I'd recommend if you're deathly afraid of spreadsheets and databases.
It's a purely visual interface, and it comes with some added benefits like being able to send emails directly from their interface, set follow-up reminders that show up as emails or push notifications, and more.
Plus the mobile app is solid. You can enter new contacts and edit old ones on the go.
Before you move on to the next lesson, I want you to choose your CRM, and get it set up.
If you go with Airtable and use my "Film Tribe CRM" template (which is my recommendation), this should only take a few minutes.
But if you want to use Hubspot or build your own system, it'll take a bit longer. Now's the time to do it though, because this train is moving full steam ahead.
In the next lesson, we're going to dive into all of the online methods to find filmmakers near you. And you'll definitely want your CRM set up before we do. So get to it!
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