Hello SOTGC community,
Do you remember the days when you had an address book with multiple scratched-out entries for whenever someone moved? Actually, I still have one of those and maybe you do too, but I only use it for Christmas cards (another old-fashioned kind of ritual).
We manage our contacts differently than we used to. When I need contact information now, I pull it up in a number of different ways, depending on if I’m emailing, calling, sending an instant message, or doing an online chat (or sending a Christmas card!).
The quickest way to find a contact when sending an email is to start typing the name in the address bar of a new compose window. My email program then auto-completes the email address for me. This works well when all of your contacts are known by your email program.
But what do you do when nothing pops up? You know that you have that email address somewhere. Do you waste a lot of time looking for it?
One of the keys to working efficiently is to keep information in a place where you can find it quickly, no matter which device you’re working on. If you’re working on your computer, you may be able to pick up your smartphone and find that contact fairly quickly, or, you may have to go searching through the house for your smartphone. You may have to look back through your emails because you never added that contact to your address book, or search through your business cards.
No one can be super-efficient all of the time. But there are good practices for contact management that you can adopt so that you’re efficient most of the time.
- When you receive an email from someone, you should get into the practice of adding that person to your address book. (Tip: To trigger your auto-complete on a new computer you can compose an email, add everyone in your address book, save the draft, and then delete it – don’t send it!).
- Make sure that you’re syncing your smartphone contacts with your PC or Mac email program.
- If you use Outlook: Install the iCloud plug-in for syncing if you have an iPhone; Install the Google Sync plug-in if you have an Android phone (requires a Google Apps for Business account).
- If you use Apple Mail: Use iCloud if you have an iPhone; Install Cobook or similar for an Android phone.
- If you use Gmail through a web browser: Android phones sync seamlessly with Gmail. If you use an iPhone, you should make sure that your Google account is set to be your default account so that new contacts will sync.
- Have a regular routine to deal with business cards by scanning and syncing. A service such as Evernote Premium or Cardmunch (from LinkedIn) is helpful because it can automatically sync with your phone contacts. Otherwise, obtain a business card scanner and follow some steps to sync:
- Scan and correct any errors
- Assign a contact to a category for easy sorting within your scanning and contact management software
- Export from your scanning software to a .csv file or vCard
- Import into your email program
- Use social networks, such as LinkedIn, for managing contacts. You’ll probably have to check LinkedIn for the latest contact information anyway.
You may find it easier to communicate through social networks as well. Most of us in small businesses are still using email or phone to communicate, at least with our business contacts, but larger organizations are experimenting with collaboration systems and using more real-time chat.
Remember to save your contacts in your email address book, sync your contacts from your smartphone, scan your business cards, and connect on social networking, and you will be a networking powerhouse.
Since SOTGC was created to be a forum for discussion we’d love it if you joined the conversation. Please comment with your thoughts below and have a great day.