Yesterday, I decided to start using dedicated CRM (customer relationship management) software for my ongoing freelance work and related job search. CRM started with firms wanting to better manage marketing and sales efforts with multiple reps. I think it's going to fit with what I'm doing, we'll see.
I send emails, have phone calls, and meet people in person to raise awareness and build referrals for my numbers+messages communications work. I've used Gmail and a GoogleDocs spreadsheet for roughly the last year. The difficulty with that setup is I need to search and find the relationship's history. Email archiving and spreadsheets work for keeping track, but they are not 'dashboards,' they don't easily present me with pertinent information.
One of my new favorite IT guys is Jon DiPietro, who domesticates IT. He implemented HighriseHQ as a CRM for a political campaign I volunteered for. I got used to the Highrise interface and really liked it's speed. I was worried about the ease of integrating with Gmail: I don't want to enter information in 2x all the time. Thankfully, by adding one email address as a BCC to each email I send, I can automatically get all the conversations I need in Highrise, organized appropriately.
I'm using the free test of Highrise, which is limited to 250 contacts and not much uploaded file space. If I keep using it consistently and it continues to be helpfully track my marketing and networking efforts, I'll keep it. CRM should be a lightweight way of tracking what's happening in any marketing effort. A solution like Highrise could work for freelancing and a professional's job search.