There are different reasons to manage contacts depending on your work situation.
Situation One: You work in a company with an employee directory. When you need to call or email someone, you look them up. However, you may need your own list of contact information when you are outside of the company firewall and/or if you leave the company and want to maintain contact with former colleagues.
Situation Two: You work in sales or are an entrepreneur. Your list of contacts is the lifeblood of your business and valuable intellectual property.
Tips for maintaining a good contact list:
For those working in a company – try using the contact management system that your company already has. Typically, email programs such as Outlook, Lotus Notes, and Entourage have built-in contact programs. If you leave the company, the list can be exported into another format.
For salespeople/entrepreneurs – look for a contact management system that allows you to track people, data, interactions, and follow-ups. This can be managed for some people using the same systems described above. For others who need something more robust, a system like Act! by Sage Solutions may be the answer. Purge and update this list toward the end of every year (just in time for holiday greetings).
A special note about paper-based contact management systems:
What would any discussion of contacts be without a reference to business cards? Business cards can be entered directly into one of the electronic contact manager systems mentioned above or you can use a card scanner to enter them. If you prefer, you can staple business cards to an index card and store them in a card file box with alphabetical tabs. You can put interaction notes on the index cards as appropriate, and cards can be shuffled as contacts enter (and leave) your system.
Remember the adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know?” If you have found this to be true, then managing your contacts can make all the difference in the world to your productivity. Additionally, it is an uncertain economic world right now. Should you find yourself in transition from one job to another, your contact list would be priceless.
Dr. Melissa Gratias (pronounced "Gracious") is a work psychologist who helps overwhelmed and underappreciated businesspeople be more focused and effective. Since 2007, thousands of people have graduated with honors from her onsite sessions, distance coaching, productivity seminars, and corporate consulting projects. Based in Savannah, Georgia, Melissa is available for nationwide consulting and speaking engagements. Contact her via email at [email protected] or call 912-417-2505. Sign up for her free monthly e-newsletter or visit her website, melissagratias.com.