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How to organize contacts?Views: 1534
May 15, 2005 2:51 amHow to organize contacts?#

Trish Taylor
I'm just starting my first home based business. My question is: How do I organize my contacts? My organizational skills leave a lot to be desired. I either go overboard or too minimal. The things I want to know about my contacts are: customers or hope to be, when I last talked with them, what about, best time to reach them, times I've attempted to contact them, and the usual (name, address, phone, email, IM).

I've asked people I know, but somehow I don't think post-it notes will work. 3x5's...maybe, but I'd rather use a computer or hand-held organizer or both....

Also, if you think there's other info you think I should keep track of, please let me know.

Any suggestions/advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Trish

Private Reply to Trish Taylor

May 15, 2005 6:49 pmre: How to organize contacts?#

Ken Lee
Hi Trish,
One thing that works for me is to take an envelope and put the business cards from a networking event into that envelope labled with the event. Also, there are software programs like Outlook, or stand alones that are great for PIM. Best wishes with your venture.
Ken

Private Reply to Ken Lee

May 15, 2005 7:05 pmre: How to organize contacts?#

Terry Green
Trish,

I've found ACT! to be a great program for keeping track of my contacts. The program allows me to do everything you mentioned that you want to do, it also allows you to email or write correspondence directly from the program if you want. Here's a link to an article I posted in my blog about using ACT! http://www.myfastype.com/Blog/?p=39. It's written by Jan Wallen.

Terry L. Green, MVA
Fastype
http://www.myfastype.com

Private Reply to Terry Green

May 16, 2005 2:23 pmre: How to organize contacts?#

Woody Quinones
Greetings Trish,

Thank you for this post.

I use two different means to organize.

I have been using Quick Books which does bookkeeping and allows me to store tons of information about clients whether it is business or personal. Of course that is on my main computer.

The other item I use is a little handheld organizer I picked up at Radio Shack for $12.00. This device allows me to store pertinent information about clients and fits right in my breast pocket.

Any notes I have I use a simple coding system, that I created for myself. If anyone were to get their hands on this device they would not have any idea what my notes meant and my information stays hidden.

When I pull up a clients name that I havent' seen in 3 months I am able to quickly note what it is about this client I should know.

Private Reply to Woody Quinones

May 17, 2005 11:01 pmre: How to organize contacts?#

Maria Marsala
I use MS Access and Outlook.

I also send my cards to my VA who puts them in order for me. That's not my forte in life ;)

Private Reply to Maria Marsala

May 18, 2005 5:12 am re: How to organize contacts?#

Brian Baldwin
Has anyone used Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager? I just installed it and haven't had a chance to really play with it.

Namaste,
Brian

Private Reply to Brian Baldwin

May 18, 2005 5:49 amre: How to organize contacts?#

Gracie Low
Hi Trish,

I take contacts to mean both business cards and soft copy information.

For hard copy business cards, I have found that nothing beats a Rolodex w plastic sleeves to hold the cards. They are not available in my country so I recently bought a few from Canada. Despite the exchange rate making it 3 times more expensive, they are the most wonderful things to help sort out and search for cards. Most times, I recall a certain design or feature of the card that jogs my memory about who does what.

I have also entered the information from the card onto MS Outlook and find that very effective for a quick search.

Yes, a handheld is great for when you are on the go. My trusty Nokia Communicator w a keyboard, phone and camera is my favourite. Plus you can sync the contacts into Outlook and vice versa.

I use all 3.

All the best,
Gracie

Private Reply to Gracie Low

May 19, 2005 2:40 pmre: How to organize contacts?#

David Opperman
If you collecting a lot of business cards, I highly recommend to Corex Card Scanner. You can scan the front and back of cards. The information is read into a computerized Rolodex and you can import and export the data. Another great feature is you can store your contacts on line for free and periodically, you can automatically contact everyone in your database to verify if their information is correct. You can also import and export with Act, Outlook, Palm and other contact management software.

My procedure when I get a card is to write on it when and where I met the person and any pertinent information we may have discussed. I then scan their cards when I get home and then throw the card out. I mainly use my Palm for contact management, but eventually, I'll probably break down and buy Act.

David Opperman

Private Reply to David Opperman

May 20, 2005 5:17 pmre: How to organize contacts?#

Sharon Lawler
I've been using Business Contact manager in Outlook, and for the MOST part, it's great. Does everything you asked about. Though I've heard great things about ACT! too.

My main problem with the Business Contact manager (and this may not be a problem for others who don't count on this feature) is the Categories feature.

I need to group people into different categories, so that I can pull up a category and see all of the different people in that category. Problem is, it appears that I can only have 50 categories (probably enough for most people, but not for me). It won't let me add categories without getting rid of one. Microsoft says you should be able to add an unlimited amount of categories, but they're having trouble figuring out why I can't seem to.

If anyone has experience with this and can help me work this out, I'd love to hear from you.

Private Reply to Sharon Lawler

Jun 24, 2005 7:02 pmre: How to organize contacts?#

Abdulhaq Syed
Hi Trish
You can prepare a questionare where u have all comfortable questions to whom u contact either by telephone, email or in person
File this on every day basis and/or enter in Microsoft Access or Excel , this will help u for easy search by Date,Name , Company and so on

Private Reply to Abdulhaq Syed

Jun 24, 2005 7:19 pm re: How to organize contacts?#

David Norcross
Act! without question. I would not recommend the new version. You can probably by a copy of ACT! version 6 on Ebay for next to nothing. I was a beta tester for 2005. The application is loaded with bugs and is very slow. In a stand alone environment it is great. I would be glad to help you with the application. If you need help just send me a message.

David

One Source Graphics
www.osprint.net

Your Image is Everything

Private Reply to David Norcross

Jun 25, 2005 12:48 amre: How to organize contacts?#

Mandy Minor
Hi Trish, good question! I've read all the replies so far and they're great. Since I also recently started my business I'm trying to keep my expenses low. ACT! and other software would be great, but I'd have to purchase it. Excel, however, is free. I have a one file/workbook called Contacts with different sheets - clients, prospects, vendors, and associates. Each sheet has columns for name. company name, address, e-mail, and phone, so once someone moves from prospect to client I can just copy and paste that row. The client sheet has columns for project/type of work, contact dates, and notes - and I can add columns later if I want. You could also add a category column and sort by that - it's very flexible. I find Excel much simpler than Access, and most people have a copy of Excel with Office.

Like most of the others, I put pertinent information into my Outlook Express contacts and keep physical business cards in a holder. : )

The best to you in your new venture!

Mandy

Private Reply to Mandy Minor

Jun 25, 2005 1:17 amre: re: How to organize contacts?#

David Norcross
Just an fyi. ACT! 6 can be purchased on Ebay for $20 to $50. A real deal.

Private Reply to David Norcross

Jun 25, 2005 7:08 amre: How to organize contacts?#

Mark Monteiro
Hi Trisha,

As you have just started a home based business, there really isn't any need to go overboard with expensive doodads.

As I started my own little business about one and a half years ago, I started with simple card file, computer, internet connection, land line and mobile.

To organize my schedule I used a simple day planner and to maintain a database of my contacts I entered everything in a spread sheet keeping active and prospects separate.

This system has worked well for me and I leave a blank column at the start of the sheet where I can write any comments or what I have to follow up with when I speak to that specific contact.

I have just come across a computer based organizer that in addition your contact management (which Outlook can do for you anyhow), it also has simple to use / customize expense trackers and can be customized if you want to give them to your clients. The cost is some 39.95 and it comes with a 15 day trial period.

The link is http://www.organiserplus.com. Take a look at it might be of help to you.

Cheers,

Mark Monteiro

Private Reply to Mark Monteiro

Jun 29, 2005 1:13 amre: How to organize contacts?#

Anne Wenzel
Trish, I do recommend starting out electronically with your contact database, even though right now you might only have a few names. Over the past 6 years I've been in business I've met hundreds of people and I don't have an electronic database. I have a 3-ring binder with a lot of business cards, and I also work with a customer relationship marketing company that maintains a database of mailing addresses for regular direct mailings. But now, if I want to get electronically organized, I will have to add *hundreds* of names, addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses into a database manually, whereas if I'd started electronically at the beginning it would have been much easier!

Good luck,
Anne R. Wenzel, M.A.
www.Econosystems.com
Publisher
The San Francisco Bay Area Economic Outlook
& Small and Home Business Market eNewsletter

Private Reply to Anne Wenzel

Jul 04, 2005 6:18 pmre: re: How to organize contacts?#

Sasha Storper- Tahitian Noni
I love Microsoft Outlook. It tracks any emails you send your contacts. I write dated notes by each contact. It even has a followup feature which will alert you when its time to follow up.

Sasha

Private Reply to Sasha Storper- Tahitian Noni

Jul 11, 2005 11:17 amre: How to organize contacts?#

Thea Westra
I use Vertical Response iBuilder (http://www.verticalresponse.com/products/) for my e-zine opt-in database and download the list in Excell on occasion to save it to disc for back-up, of course!
My accounts are kept in QuickbooksPro (http://www.quicken.com.au/BusinessFinance/QuickBooksPro/default.aspx) and so my client and suppliers list goes there.
Then with my Outlook Express address book, I have a free service that I downloaded called Plaxo (http://www.plaxo.com/downloads) which is an excellent service to automatically update contact details.
My calendar is my Palm pilot which synchronises with my desktop and has an address book too, though I don't use that for addresses.
You might like this cool little tool as well http://www.pcguru.com.au/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=72
Each of my clients have their own folder too in which I save all emails and records of clients.
As said earlier though, all my lists and folders are downloaded (exported)into Excel each week and saved to disc in case I ever have a computer problem.
Hope this all helps Trish. Email me personally if you want more. I can see you have more questions in your original message.

Private Reply to Thea Westra

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