# Anybody using this approach to manage contacts? How?

edited March 2021

Greetings,

I'm using AirTable for my contacts management.
You can think of it as a simple CRM.

Since I'm working to keep things the most simple as possible, I'm wondering how I could do the same with simple text notes.

My light CRM is not just a list of names, but I also put:

• location
• job
• company
• projects we have done together

This way if I'm looking, say, for a journalist, I simply click on the "journalist" category and I get all my contacts related to journalism.
The same with location when I move to other cities and want to network with someone.

Something like this.

I fear that if I use a simple text note I lose such feature.

Any tips?

BTW: the same for the academic papers I find on the Web... ;-)

Post edited by IvanFerrero on

• A Zettelkasten isn't really designed to be a substitute for a CRM. There are some robust CRM programs out there and programs that are not designed to be a CRM but can handle the load handily, such as Notion. Zettelkasten is designed to hold reference material, link thoughts, look for new ideas, etc.

• I don't see why Zettelkasten system cannot be used for this. Create one note per person, one note per project, one note per company, and link people to companies and projects. It's fairly straightforward and can be done while using your ZK for other purposes. I'm looking for ways to use ZK for my project management at work, and what you describe is the most straightforward part.

• I manage the information of my clients (both health and ZK) within my Zettelkasten.

If you want to add specific meta-data to each item (client, journal) you can either use a different language (I use English for a very specific subset of tags and German for ordinary tags) or use a different tag-syntax (using "§" instead of "#")

You can place links (to meetings notes etc.), provide context (via Structure Notes). It is not the Zettelkasten Method as it is intimitly connected to processing knowledge and not information. But I don't think the Zettelkasten Police will knock on your door for abusing your ZK.

I am a Zettler

• But I don't think the Zettelkasten Police will knock on your door for abusing your ZK.

Imma call the police for Zettelkasten abuse. Zettelkasten rights!

• Hey there, it sounds like you're using AirTable to manage your contacts, and it's working well for you. It's great to hear that you're keeping things simple and organized by categorizing your contacts based on location, job, company, and projects.
Suppose you're looking for an alternative to AirTable. In that case, you might consider using an online CRM system to manage your contacts and keep everything organized.
Another option is to use a spreadsheet program like Excel or Google Sheets to organize your contacts.

• Many of the digital note taking tools that run off of text allow you to add metadata to your basic text files (as YAML headers, inline with a key:: value pair, or via #tags). Many of them have search functionality or use other programmatic means like query blocks, DataView, DataViewJS, etc. for doing queries on your files to get back lists, tables, charts, etc. of the data you're looking for.

The DataView repository has some good examples of how this works with something like Obsidian. Fortunately if you're using simple text files you can usually put them into one or more platforms to get the data and affordances you want out of them individually.

As an example, I have a script block in my daily note in Obsidian for birthdays in my notes that fall on today's date:

dataview LIST birthday FROM "Lists/People" WHERE birthday.day = date(2023-01-18).day 

If I put the text birthday:: 1927-12-08 into a note about Niklas Luhmann, his name and birthday would appear in my daily note on his birthday. One can use similar functionality to create tables of books they read with titles, authors, ratings, dates read, etc. or a variety of other data input which parses through your plaintext files. Services like Obsidian, Logseq, et al. are getting better about allowing these types of programmatic searches for users without backgrounds in programming and various communities usually provide help for pre-made little snippets like the one above that one can cut and paste into their notes to get the outputs that they need. Another Obsidian based example that uses text files for tracking academic journal articles can be found at https://nataliekraneiss.com/your-academic-reading-list-in-obsidian/; I'm sure there are similar versions for other text-based platforms.

In pre-digital times, for a manual version of a rolodex like this in paper, one could use different color cards as pseudo-tags (doctors are on yellow cards, family members on blue cards, friends on green cards, etc.) or adding edge notches or even tabs to represent different types of metadata. See for example the edge colored cards in Hawkexpress' Pile of Index Cards: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hawkexpress/albums/72157594200490122

No piece of information is superior to any other. Power lies in having them all on file and then finding the connections. There are always connections; you have only to want to find them. —Umberto Eco

• @chrisaldrich said:
Many of the digital note taking tools that run off of text allow you to add metadata to your basic text files (as YAML headers, inline with a key:: value pair, or via #tags). Many of them have search functionality or use other programmatic means like query blocks, DataView, DataViewJS, etc. for doing queries on your files to get back lists, tables, charts, etc. of the data you're looking for.

Thanks for the idea. I had not thought about using key, value pairs in frontmatter this way before. I wonder what applications I might use this for besides a birthday reminder. This seems like a reinvention of a calendaring tool without all the calendaring tool's functionality. I've developed a sort of ZK dashboard. Adding an annual reminder might be handy. I already track and report for review notes created X years ago. But I'm trying to think what kind of note I'd want to be reminded of on a particle date. More thought is needed.

Will Simpson
The quality of our thinking is directly proportional to the quality of our reading. To think better, we must read better. - Rohan
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