Have you upgraded to the free LinkedIn Contacts feature yet?

I finally upgraded about a month ago and have been very happy with the results. If you haven’t upgraded yet, I’d certainly encourage you to take advantage of this free tool.

In a nutshell, it gives you some very simple CRM features along with connections tagging and sorting features that used to be reserved for people on a paid account. I have not found any downside to the upgrade. 

It’s easy to do. Just go to http://contacts.linkedin.com and click the yellow Get Started button.

As I mentioned, I only recently started using the Contacts feature, and I will share more thoughts about it somewhere down the road. But here are some of the best capabilities I’ve found thus far.

  • Enhanced 1st level connection information and reminder system
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Click the Relationship null tab on a person’s profile, and you will be able to save information about the person that can only be seen by you, including notes, reminders (daily, weekly, monthly or recurring), how you met, and customizable tags.
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Also, you will see a chronological tracking of communications you have had with that person all the way back to the date you connected with him/her on LinkedIn. 
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  • Tags
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You can add a confidential, customizable tag to a person’s profile. Then you can sort and send direct messages to a group of people who have the same tag (up to 50 people at a time). This tool will be critical when implementing a nurturing or follow-up system with groups of connections. 
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Here are a few thought starters for the type of tags you might consider:
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- Clients
- Potential clients in a certain geographic area
- Chamber members
- Alumni
- Hobbies
- Webinar series participants
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You can have no more than 50 different tags.
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  • Your Day 
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“Start your day by staying in touch with your contacts” is the invitation that appears at the top of your Contact page to remind you to send a message (standard wording or customizable) to any of your contacts who have changed jobs, were mentioned in the news, have work anniversaries or birthdays.  
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My first thought was this is way too much like Facebook for me, but the more I have used it, the more I feel pretty good about this kind of positive interaction with the folks I care about most. 
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  • 1st level connections sorting options
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From the main page in Contacts, you can sort your network using any of the following filters: 
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- Tags
- Recent conversations
- Newly added
- Alphabetical
- Company
- Location
- Lost touch
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  • Syncing and importing information from other sources
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This is touted by LinkedIn as one of the major things Contacts can do for you. I am a bit hesitant to recommend this because of the past glitches that have occurred when trying to sync from an outside database into LinkedIn. Proceed at your own risk on this one. I’m not doing it. 
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The syncing process is found by clicking Contacts>Settings on the top right and then selecting your choice of syncing sources. As of today, the sources include Gmail, Google Contacts, Yahoo, Outlook, iPhone, CardMunch, Evernote, and Tripit. 
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  • Mobile App
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This app works almost as well as the site itself; so I highly recommend you download it for your mobile device. It’s available now for iPhone and LinkedIn promises an Android app soon. 
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  • Exporting information about your 1st level connections
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I’ve mentioned this before, but it is worthy of another mention. This tool lets you export into a .csv or .vcf file that you download into an Excel spreadsheet so you can use the information in other ways. 
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Get to this feature by clicking Contacts>Settings on the top right and then Export LinkedIn Connections

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For additional “how to” information, check out LinkedIn Contacts – Frequently Asked Questions.