Contact Management Made Easy

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Contact Management Made Easy:
6 Steps to Eliminate Those Piles of Business Cards

I’ve had many clients ask me about how best to organize their business cards and contacts. It’s a common question among business owners and people who are responsible for business development in their company.

However, everyone in business needs to keep contacts, so I want to offer the best way to store a person’s information so you can find who you need when you need them.

The most important thing to know before you do anything is how these business cards are useful to you.

If you have a big pile of business cards, separate them first by category. Put them into piles according to who they are to you and how they are useful to you and your business. For instance, you can create categories for “Clients,” “Leads” or “Prospects,” “Vendors,” “Networking,” “Personal,” and one for any other category where you have at least a handful of contacts.

When designating categories, don’t make the mistake of creating too many categories and too many categories with only one or two contacts within. Keep categories broad and continue that way until you find that they’re getting too big, which can make contacts harder to find. Always start big and then create smaller categories if necessary.

Here are 6 steps you can take to eliminate those piles of business cards…

1. Take advantage of computerized data entry such as CardScan, NEAT Business Cards or IrisCard Pro and let these gadgets do most of the work for you. If you have a lot to enter and you want a person to enter them for you, consider hiring an intern or a student to enter them for you.

2. Add contacts and contact information to your computer as you receive the information from email, voice mail or from any other source as soon as possible. Whatever e-mail system or CRM you use, add it as soon as possible, but avoid fragmenting any categories between two systems. If you have to keep some contacts in one system and some in another, at least define which categories will go where and stay consistent.

3. If you use Outlook, highlight the contact information you want to take over to “Contacts” and then right click on the email address of the new contact while still in the open email. You’ll see an option to “Add to Outlook Contacts.”

Once you’ve opened up a new contact record, you can paste the information from the email into the Notes section of the new Contact and disperse the information to the appropriate fields from there. In other email systems, you can also cut and paste contact information from an email to a new contact record.

4. It is important to know HOW you’ll be using contact information so you’ll know what data to enter. Are you calling, emailing or mailing to this contact? Some categories may not need as much detail as others.

5. Be sure to synchronize if you need to have this contact information available in your smart phone or tablet outside of the office.

6. I recommend that you part with the business cards after you’ve entered the data and you do regular back-ups of your data.

However, if you must keep the physical cards, there are two commonly used options for keeping them organized in a full size binder with business card pages holding 20 cards each. Organize the cards alphabetically, with one page per letter of the alphabet, or organize them by category according to how you categorized them in the computer. For instance, for networking contacts, you can organize them according to how you met them.

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