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How to Win Friends and Influence People With Excel

Posted by on Friday, September 20th, 2013

Yes you read that headline right, Microsoft Excel can help you make friends and influence people.

You wouldn’t have thought something as cold, logical, and well, left-brain as a spreadsheet could help you with something as warm and fuzzy as your social connections, but it is true! Read on …

When you are networking there are many tiny bits of information that you pick up and need to remember. I don’t know about you, but I can’t keep a mental track of it all. My brain leaks information all the time, like a … water carrying container … with holes in … um …

We all know how nice it is when someone remembers our birthday, or remembers to wish us luck before an important business apointment or speech. The people who manage to achieve this get extra credit and a social leg up.

I am not talking about being a creepy stalker or turning all amateur private dectective. That would be just wrong and just a bit disturbing.

But people do drop tidbits into natural conversation and it is cool if you pick those up. Even more important if your social connections have moved from contact or colleague to the friend category. Then forgetting is potentially damaging. Especially when you meet in person and have to introduce your friend and their spouse to others and find yourself wringing your brain for names.

Excel can’t help with on the spot recall, only your gray cells can do that, but it can help you store, organize, and collate the information. And when you have all the information in one place you can study it more effectively.

Why use Excel?

  • A diary is great for upcoming dates but not very good for searching past and future
  • An electronic calendar is cool for searching, but not so good for related information
  • Contact managers are ok for individual contact details but grouping becomes difficult
  • Databases are cool but the more complex it becomes then the less likely you are going to use it
  • You probably have Excel or equivalent – No additional software needed
  • Add and change info in a familiar, no-nonsense interface
  • Sort, filter, search, and get fancy with macros if you want to
  • Spreadsheets are portable, you can export and share the doc, even on your PDA or iPhone

View Excel Spreadsheets on the iPhone?

Yup, did you know the iPhone could view Excel spreadsheets? Just email the spreadsheet to yourself and there it is, right in your inbox. Or use an iPhone application like “Files” which gives you WebDav file access and a file manager capability on the phone.

What kind of information should you collect?

Well, the answer is … anything useful! You never know :)

Just get down any information you can think of to begin with then evolve the spreadsheet as you go.

Check out this mind map (click to download or print)

Excel Contact Information

Here is an idea of the process:

  1. Each day take a look at your important dates to see if there is anything you need to make note of
  2. Check out your spreadsheet before a meeting, or have it on hand when online
  3. If a piece of information comes up in conversation when out and about, make a note then transfer to your spreadsheet
  4. Use facts in your spreadsheet as conversation starters or to prevent awkward silences.
  5. As always in conversations, ask more questions, you will seem more interesting if you are interested :)

Calculating Dates and Birthdays With Microsoft Excel

There are various formula functions that can help us juggle dates, especially anniversaries and birthdays.

  • DateValue() = Turn text into a date
  • Year/Day/Month() = Get the date part from a date that you need
  • Now()/Today() = Get today’s date
  • Text() = Convert a date into text
  • DateDif() = Find the difference between two dates

So if you want to find the next date of a birthday, you can create the date from the day and month, by adding the current year as the year date part:

Or see how many days there are till a particular birthday, perhaps so you can sort the list with closest dates to the top:

We do this by using DATEDIF() and comparing it against TODAY() with days as our criteria.

You can see more cool Excel functions in our Microsoft Excel Cheat Sheet.

What do you think about this idea? Is this something you do already? Please share in the comments …

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