I struggle with remembering birthdays and staying in touch with loved ones. This led me to consider the idea of a "personal CRM" tool to help me manage my relationships and remind me to reconnect. It turns out such tools do exist, like the popular open-source option Monica, which allows for self-deployment to maintain the privacy of personal contacts. However, I ultimately decided on a tool called Clay, which required less maintenance.

With Clay, it's a SaaS solution that doesn't require me to maintain my own infrastructure. Plus, it has many neat features that make it even more powerful than Monica.

Here's a description from Clay's About Page.

Almost all successful people naturally identify the importance of conscientiousness, spending time and money to remember the most important parts of their careers and lives—other people.

It's the people within our network, or just beyond, that can make the difference. It's the loose ties that get us jobs, refer us to mentors, and, maybe, even find us life partners or lifelong friends.

It's something we all know intuitively: to achieve more, to be more successful, to be happier, we need to start thinking about others first.

That's Clay.

Although I have reservations about giving access to my contacts, all the information is already public. I linked my LinkedIn profile and manually added my family members without including sensitive details. Even if Clay were to sell my data, it would only be information that is already publicly available.

My Clay Setup

After linking your accounts, you will have many contacts to organize into different categories. I, for example, have around 1,000 connections on LinkedIn. I manually sorted through all of them and placed them into various categories. For instance, I created a category called "Hiring Managers," which includes individuals I've connected with who play a role in the hiring process (such as CEOs and internal recruiters). I want to reach out to these people when looking for job opportunities.

People collections in Clay. 81 starred, 1 mentor, 1 mentee, 17 friends and family, 18 hiring managers

Clay Search

Clay has extensive search functionality. You can find contacts based on various criteria, such as job titles, industries, locations, etc. This allows you to quickly find the contacts you need, whether you are looking for potential clients, job leads, or networking opportunities. You can also search for keywords in notes, tasks, or emails, making it even more powerful. The search functionality in Clay is a game-changer, making it easy to locate the right people at the right time and make meaningful connections.

Clay search with many options such as location, role, education, etc

Clay Reminders

Another Clay feature that has proved extremely useful is its "reconnect" feature. Clay sends reminders to reconnect with different individuals in my network throughout the year. I have customized these reminders so that my most significant connections (such as my parents and mentors/mentees) are prompted for reconnection more frequently than my other contacts. For instance, Clay reminds me to reach out to my mom weekly. This feature has helped me maintain and strengthen my relationships, which is crucial for my personal and professional growth.

Contact card for my mom, Earlene Solly

Stay up-to-date With Your Network

Another noteworthy feature is Clay's ability to track changes on social media profiles such as Twitter and LinkedIn. For instance, it sends notifications of changes like location, a profile description, and other details on the profiles. For example, you can see that Clay is sending me a message that one of my connections has changed their location on Twitter from Oakland to San Francisco. Getting these updates is an excellent way to start a conversation and stay informed about your network.

A Twitter contact who changed their location from Oakland CA to San Francisco CA


I have found Clay to be a highly valuable personal CRM tool. It assists me in maintaining my relationships and provides serendipitous opportunities. While some may be skeptical of using such a tool, I have fully embraced it, and it has become one of my go-to applications. I highly recommend utilizing a personal CRM to stay connected with your network.


  • freedompraise July 21, 2023
    Wow, this is so cool.
    I'm definitely checking clay out
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John Solly Profile Picture
John Solly Profile Picture

John Solly

Hi, I'm John, a Software Engineer with a decade of experience building, deploying, and maintaining cloud-native geospatial solutions. I currently serve as a senior software engineer at New Light Technologies (NLT), where I work on a variety of infrastructure and application development projects.

Throughout my career, I've built applications on platforms like Esri and Mapbox while also leveraging open-source GIS technologies such as OpenLayers, GeoServer, and GDAL. This blog is where I share useful articles with the GeoDev community. Check out my portfolio to see my latest work!