How organized are you? Imagine you have a great idea and want to float it by some people who can help you make this dream come true. Could you quickly figure out who to go to for marketing, software development, or other things? How passionate would they be about this kind of idea?
As I learned from the wonderful Octalysis Prime group (OP), to be able to find that crucial bit of information at a glance is exactly what’s needed. Knowing this, I realized I needed to invent the Network Character Sheet.
For those who have ever played a Role Playing Game (RPG) like Dungeons and Dragons, the notion of a Character Sheet is well known. It’s the sheet of information that highlights a person’s abilities and other key information. It tells everyone at the table what the person can do for you and your friends. For keeping track of my current network of associates and friends, I need that kind of organizational tool. I want to track people’s passions, skills, and other key items. So, what exists now that I can use?
The Hunt Begins
On LinkedIn, the Character Sheet is the online profile aka online resume. It has all kinds of information which may be useful for getting a new job. However, it’s way too much information for my day-in / day-out networking needs.
In order to really keep track of what is important, I need a Character Sheet template that reflects just those things I care about. I also need a place to electronically search and store these.
So, I went back to the basics. What would be in my character sheet template and what can help me make what I want?
I looked at apps that help create RPG character sheets and also some example Dungeons & Dragons character sheets for inspiration.
For Windows, I found a free app called NBOS Character Sheet Designer 2.0 (CSD). Although it’s a rough app to use, it’s free and simple enough in concept. At first, CSD looked promising, but it felt rough to use and being stuck on Windows was finally a deal breaker.
I looked at other possibilities like Apple’s beautiful Pages app and Excel. For Pages, the Invoice template seemed like a good thing to start with. For Excel, I started with the “Family Budget Planner” template. I worked with both of those, but they weren’t a good fit.
Finally, I landed on using the Contacts app for the mac. It’s an app carefully crafted to handle a person’s contact information and some person meta-data. In other words, Contacts lets me add key information about the person. Plus, I can easily search for something like “Marketing.” Contacts even integrates with other things like Twitter and my iPhone.
Inspired by the Octalysis Prime Real Life RPG idea of calling key contacts my Allies, I created a special group called Allies in Contacts. Yet, how to add custom fields? For example, I want dedicated Skills fields. How to customize Contacts cards on your Mac and exploring the app got me there.
By adding a custom “Related Name” field, I could add a “Skill” field, “Super Power” field or whatever I wish.
With this figured out, I created a “Generic Person” with all the fields I need that I can copy / paste whenever I need a new Network Character Sheet created.
Using the Contacts app that comes with the macOS, is currently the best available platform for my Network Character Sheet idea. Since searching is the electronic version of finding something “at a glance”, the Contacts app’s custom fields feature is just what I need. Now it’s time to store my allies awesome abilities. Perhaps with enough personal organization such as the Network Character Sheet, we can all help each other make our dreams come true!