So you want to be an influencer and thought leader? It may shock you that the linchpin to having more influential relationships rests not in some secret funnel app or technology but, rather, a deeper commitment to some basic fundamentals of contact management. These relationships are your opportunity farm. Maximizing your results often comes down to simply being a better steward than the rest of the crowd. So let's get to work.

1. Every influencer needs to use a CRM to keep the connection relevant and alive.

Whether you're a high school or college student, a stay-at-home dad or mom, volunteer, intern, entrepreneur, or someone who just wants to have an epic career, you need to do a better job at managing contacts and relationships. You need to have a strong CRM game that rises above the default address book and contact apps your phone has to offer.

Pro Tip No. 1 -- There are plenty of CRM tools out there, and if you're a Gmail user who prefers to keep things simple, take a look at Streak CRM. It lives right inside of Gmail and has CRM superpowers.

Pro Tip No. 2 -- Whatever system you use, make it your habit to always have a next task or action associated with every single contact in your system. Right after you complete a task for that contact, you write the next task, and add a firm due date. This simple habit will help you nurture relationships and grow your opportunities faster than almost anything else. It doesn't sound innovative or sexy, but it is essential.

2. Quick and dirty contact capturing leaves out the story. So be sure to capture all of the basic information.

The reality is that many people are in the habit of casual contact capturing: writing a first name, a phone number, and maybe a business email address. You need to capture all of the contact information. Casual connectors may tell themselves they'll circle back to the business card later, but let's face it, it never happens.

3. Business cards have a surprisingly short shelf life. For a lasting connection, make it personal.

Direct access to the individual contact is more valuable than the business contact information over the long term. People change jobs more often than ever, but their personal email address may remain the same for decades. So, be smart. Make it personal if you can and get mobile phone numbers and personal email addresses. This gives you lasting reach and connection.

4. A contact without context is a stranger. Capture the story early and often.

If you don't remember the stories of your contacts, the connections might as well have been created through the phone book. Introductions happen fast, and you need to be disciplined to capture the information while it's still fresh in your head. If you want your influence and reach to grow, you need to preserve as much of a contact's story as you can to maximize its value.

5. When capturing a new contact, most people neglect the noteworthy tidbits related to the individual that make the person stand out. Use the notes section for every contact.

What happens six months down the road is that you forget the deeper story about how and why you connected with that person in the first place. Use your notes section in your contacts app to capture a few details that explain the connection.

6. Connecting on social networks is not enough. It's an epic fail if you don't have the contact's email. Maximize the shelf life of your influence.

All bad rhymes aside, social platforms come and go, as do the various social CRM tools that connect to them. If you want to become an influencer who stands the test of time, connecting on social networks won't be enough. You'll need a robust email database to reach your audience no matter what. This is the information that is commercially coveted by brands and advertisers. Email has staying power, and it gives you flexibility to use any number of present (and future) platforms to connect with your tribe and following.

7. Take the time to update the story after each meeting.

Every meeting reveals something new about the needs, interests, and desires of one of your contacts. If a meeting doesn't, you are talking too much and asking too few questions. You should review and reflect on your meetings by jotting a few notes in your CRM or contacts app as you gain relevant, new information.

Managing connections to build influential relationships is beyond a smart business habit. It is now an essential life skill. Making a few simple tweaks to strengthen your fundamentals can have a profound and lasting impact on your near- and long-term success. Take the extra time to steward the notes, context, and details of your connections and it will pay dividends down the road in terms of the volume of opportunities and quality of your relationships.