Mike Muhney is CEO of VIPorbit Software International, a Keller, Texas-based mobile relationship management software firm.

As the co-inventor of ACT! contact management software, a product credited as a catalyst for the customer relationship management (CRM) industry, I’m surprisingly not a champion of the concept of “managing relationships” at all. I don’t think entering data, scheduling activities or even communicating with someone amounts to “management” in any meaningful way.

Even if the concept of managing customer relationships was the premise for the industry, the actual result is little more than a tool for management to oversee an employee’s activity, communication and progress with their customers and prospects.

Networking alone isn’t the answer. It’s never just what you know but who you know that matters. But anyone can purchase a list of names. No matter what industry you’re in, the quality of your connections trumps the sheer quantity of names in your database. Attending events, shaking hands, collecting business cards – nothing wrong with that, per se, but the person with the most business cards doesn’t necessarily win. The same can be said of social networking: sending dozens of connection requests doesn’t equate to building relationships.

Reporting activity isn’t the answer. Submitting a report that you called, met or e-mailed a contact shows activity, yes, but it doesn’t necessarily demonstrate the true value of that connection. Numbers on a spreadsheet or notes on a communication log can’t represent the intrinsic aspects of our human relationships. Building and maintaining relationships requires time, intensity, trust and reciprocity – none of which are accurately reflected by a status report.

CRM isn’t the answer. According to a study by Gartner, only 50 percent of Fortune 1000 companies using CRM systems reap a significant return on their investment. Hence, it’s time ...