Ten things your Smartphone could be doing for you and how some of my favorite apps help me.

I don’t care what kind of smartphone you use. This isn’t going to be yet another post on Apple vs. Droid. My point is that if you have one, you’re all set.

If you don’t have one, and you work for a living, you need to get with the program.  I know, your phone works just fine, and it has for the past five years.  When your wife calls, it rings, you answer. When your kids text you, it beeps and you text back. Trust me, I get it, but I’m amazed at how many people I see that still carry old phones or basic blackberries.

In today’s fast paced business environment, your phone needs to be doing so much more for you, especially if you are in sales or you have customers of one sort or another.  Here are ten things you could be doing with a smartphone and how some of my favorite apps help me.

  1. Books:  You can’t be a good blogger if you’re not a voracious reader.  I know, you have a Kindle, so you should be all set, right?  Well, Kindle makes a great app for iPhone and you could be reading instead of playing with those silly, time-wasting angry birds. (Damned birds. I’ll fess up; I’ve finished all the levels and am now going back to see if I can get three stars in each category, you?)  You could also be reading all your favorite newspapers (I love the USA Today and NY Times apps).   
  2. Email: you need to be able to send and receive emails while you’re on the go.  Having to sit in front of a computer to actually send and receive email is so 1999.  (I know; ’99 was a good year for me as well.  I sold my first company in ’99 and was having a lot of fun.  Ahh, the good old days.)  Further however, you need to be able to easily open and edit attachments and visit web links.  So, if you’re carrying an older, simple blackberry device, you need to upgrade as well.
  3. Internet: You need to be able to browse the internet, check the weather, check your stock portfolio, check your flight status and access Google and Bing.  (Ok, and watch a few YouTube videos of Rico, Air New Zealand’s spoke’s puppet – you’ll laugh for sure.  I interviewed this furry little guy.  Check it out here: http://bit.ly/RicoPeters
  4. Social Networking: You need to be able to update your facebook and twitter statuses on the go.  If you’re not posting fun and interesting comments and pictures from your travels and reviews from your hotel and restaurant adventures, you’re missing out on how people communicate these days.  As far as social for business; the LinkedIn and TripIt apps are about as critical as it gets. LinkedIn has all but replaced my Outlook contact file because it’s always updated and there’s not better tool to research business leads.  For the record, while LinkedIn is free, LinkedIn Premium is well worth the monthly fee.)  Build your social network of contacts at every chance.  Doing this on a smartphone makes it so much easier. For social updates, I love the facebook app. It’s easy to use and it makes it very easy to read and post. As far as twitter, I’m a HootSuite fan and their app doesn’t disappoint.  
  5. Click, Point, Shoot:  Your phone should be your camera and video camera.  Take pictures and videos of everything!  You should even be doing video blog posts about your sales conquests, funny stories from clients, anything.  Guess what sells? Pictures!  You should have a hundred really neat shots on your phone that you can email, post, show to your clients and potential clients at any time.
  6. Apps: There are a million apps from which to choose.  My favorite business app these days? CardMunch – period. Take a photo of a business card. Submit it with one click. Within minutes (yes, minutes) it comes back as a .vcf for easy download into Outlook (or similar) AND as a scanned image. You don’t need to spend time typing cards into Outlook. Have you ever been to a tradeshow and collected a hundred important cards? This is the best app out there for you right now. Best of all? It’s free. No really; FREE.  Plus, it has other features for follow up, sharing of contacts, notes, etc. You simply have to get this app.  By the way, one more must-have app is Google’s app of apps.  In the app store, search for Google Goggles (the very very cool way to search using your phone’s camera or via voice) and you’ll get a link to Google – the app.  The app includes Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Talk, Buzz, Tasks, Reader, News, Voice, Books, Photos, Orkut, Translate, YouTube, Earth and more.  
  7. Music & Movies.  We all need a little down-time for some quiet, calm music…. I’ve got everything from classical to international rock to AC/DC.  No matter what my mood, I have a tune for it.  I also always have at least a couple of movies on my iPhone and iPad.   I’ve spent too many hours stuck in airports not to have some non-work entertainment.
  8. Kiss the kids. If you have an iPhone4 (and some others) you can do live video calls.  Being away from the kids at bed-time isn’t fun.  I’m a big fan of Skype and I often virtually tuck the kids into bed.  I have a few laptops with webcams around the house and this works well.  However, when you’re not near a laptop, you can do live video conferencing right from your phone.  This one aspect alone is worth getting a smartphone.  Skype also has a great app making it very easy to keep in touch with all your Skype contacts.   
  9. Blog! Via apps like the official WordPress app, you can maintain and moderate your blog via your smartphone.  Truthfully, it’s so much easier from a computer, but it’s nice to be able to do so from my phone. You can add photos, upload videos and moderate and create new posts and comments.
  10. GPS:  I don’t know about you, but I’m always trying to find my way someplace.  (Yes, I work for a map company).  There are a plethora of navigation apps available and while you might have GPS in your car, the most useful directions I get from my phone are often walking and public transportation directions.  As an example, I’m a big fan of HopStop’s app as well as Around Me; a neat app that lets you search for nearby points of interest and addresses.

If you are an active, business professional, a smartphone is not an option.  Rather, it is a required business tool.  This isn’t a joke. This isn’t about old-school vs. new school and this has nothing to do with age.  It’s about being open for business when you’re not at the office. It’s about being able to get quick, reliable information, irrespective of your location. It’s about closing sales.

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About John T. Peters

Since I was a young boy, I've been in business for myself. Sure I've had 'jobs' along the way; some actually quite senior roles in major companies. My entreprenurial spirit however, keeps me going. Life's challenges however, happen in and out of the office. I'm constantly trying to improve as an executive, father, husband, brother, son and friend, all at the same time. I've determined that in everything you do, you're better off "outside the box." So, read on for Fresh Thinking. View all posts by John T. Peters

2 responses to “Ten things your Smartphone could be doing for you and how some of my favorite apps help me.

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