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 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. Should you find yourself in transition from one job to another, your contact list would be priceless.
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Melissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.