Use What You’ve Got – Contact Management

contact management in computer

Outlook is more than a mail box!

Use What You’ve Got – for Contact Management

People regret forgetting birthdays or anniversaries.  Small business people don’t know how to keep track of their customers. And people find it difficult to keep track of all the people they meet at networking events.

Yet, if they already have Microsoft Office running on their computers and using Outlook for their email program, they’ve got the right tool to do the job!  Combined with a PDA such as a Blackberry, there is no reason not to have information about people at your fingertips – everywhere you go! Take a look at a PDA if you don’t know what it looks like

Here are some tips on using Outlook to save you time, energy and, perhaps, even money!

1.  Business or Personal Cards – People say to me all the time, “I’ve got all these business cards and personal information cards – stack of them – and I just don’t know what to do with them.  They might be useful at one point.”  And that’s true.  Sometimes you meet someone and there doesn’t seem to be a point of collaboration but later, as your business grows, or you meet someone else with a need, you think of that person – but where is the information?  So you don’t bother passing the information on because it’ll take too long to search for the card or will you even remember the person’s name.  Imagine, if all you had to do was do a search in Outlook and come up with the right name and contact infomraiton

The solution is a card scanner – it inputs the information right into Outlook.  All you do is scan the card through the scanner and bingo! the information is captured into the right fields.  For some of the more decorative cards, you might have to make some adjustments. Here’s one for you to look at.

2.  Adding a Contact Manually or Filling in Details from the Business Card Scan – Click on Contacts.  File – New and a box opens (this box will open up automatically with card scanner).  Look at all the information you can enter especially if you click on the bordered buttons.  You can even add in their photo if you have one!!!

BUT people often miss the most important portion of this – the blank box on the side.  What can you use this for?  To keep track of the contacts you’ve had with that person:

  • create a description of the person – eg red hair, diamond encrusted glasses, red dress
  • where you met eg met at the marketing convention in Vegas
  • place a date and time and a summary of your conversation – on the phone or otherwise – this is especially useful for small business people with their clients (yes there are other ways of keeping track of these conversations such as journal)
  • put a map or file which you can access quickly

Categories– notice that on the bottom – you can create categories for all your contacts – eg contractors, clients, friends, family, etc – it keeps your contacts organized.  And you can sort all this information in a number of ways:  by last names, by phone list, by category, by company, by location, by follow-up flag – what more do you need for personal or small business needs?

And with each email or phone number, you can add several.  For instance, in business, the drop down menu will show you a lot of options including assistant’s numbers, and the address will allow both business and personal addresses to be included in one contact.

Under “Contacts” you can associate other contacts with the one you are working on at the time.  How handy is that!

3.  Other information

Details – you can add a wealth of information here including nicknames, spouse’s name, birthday, anniversary,  assistant’s name, etc.

Activities – is a search tool which lists emails, notes, tasks, etc associate with the person and All fields lets you look up the contents of a variety of fields completed for that contact

Look at the toolbar– you can send a new email, auto dial, flag for follow up, and under actions, there are a ton of options. If you have another contact from the same company, in actions you can add a New Contact from Same Company.  Or you can add multiple contacts or you can add a map!  Under Insert, you can associate a file with the contact – this comes in handy when you’re talking to a client on the phone and need to refer to some file.

And let’s not forget that you can create groups.  These groups can be clients, prospects, friends, family, colleagues, social or volunteer groups, etc – whatever group you need to communicate with regularly.

When you are viewing incoming emails, you can right click on the return address and add it to your contact without retyping. Microsoft has its new version 7 out but you perform these actions as far back as the 2003 version and a few earlier than that .

For a contact management system, it’s fairly complete.  Yes, there are other programs which are much better but for personal and small business use, this is adequate.  However, unless your primary profession requires more details than these, it’s not worth the expense.  One of the most powerful and one which has been around for some time is called Maximizer.

Use what you’ve got – use Outlook to track people for personal, business and networking purposes.

Lorraine Arams
Achieve your goals the time management way – complimentary
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