Posted by : Amanda Stein Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Let's get your contact book in order! Even if you are a mess in every other aspect of your life, try to be organized here... Unless you have a perfect memory and can remember every conversation you've ever had, with whom, as well as when and where. Then you probably don't need to write anything down anyways. If so, I am highly impressed and extremely jealous!

So what are some organizational tools that the rest of normal people can use?

Here are 5 easy steps to organizing your contacts:

Information Collection
Create a list of your contacts with all their contact information, including company name, job title, city/country, multiple phone numbers, email address, Skype username, Facebook site, LinkedIn profile, who they are connected with, etc. Choose whether to organize it by last name or first name, and keep it consistent.

Creating Profiles

Creating a profile for each contact is a great way to automatically have details about the person that will help establish a better relationship - in your professional network (let's hope you know your personal contacts already!). Having this information filed away automatically informs you that John Smith likes to play golf on Thursday afternoons and that Sarah Jones is well connected to David Chen, with whom you have been trying to get connected for the past month. A lot of big companies are doing this in their Customer Service Departments to provide better service and show that they "know" their customers. This works well for them, and it can work for you too!

Grouping Techniques

Once you have all their information in place, group them by status. Status titles given will be according to what is important to you. If you are a sales rep, for example, your groupings could be: "personal" (to separate business contacts from friends), "colleagues", "vendors", "customers", "new", and "opportunity". You could even group "colleagues" and "vendors" together under the heading "business" to reduce the number of groups.

Also, use a color-coding system. Colors are a great way to easily identify the status of your contact quickly. And remember to change their status if a "new" customer has changed to an "opportunity", or if they have bought to change it to "customer". Also, vise versa. If an old customer has not been in contact for a while and is now considering making a new purchase, change him/her to "opportunity".

Activity Logging

Keep track of your conversations and interactions with each contact. Make notes after each conversation to quickly summarize what you discussed and if there was anything to follow up on. Something like, "send Billy Jo a quote by the end of the week" or "Joe is interested, but not convinced...send sample". This is a great way to immediately recall where you left off in your conversation and why, for example, they have not yet bought. Using an activity log will also show the time lapse between conversations and which customers to follow up with - those who have not been contacted recently. This links back to grouping and identifying what status a customer should be grouped under.

Real Time Availability

The most important part of organizing your contacts is to have the information available in real time! It is completely useless if someone calls you while you are out for lunch and your contact book is sitting in your office. Especially if you're job requires a lot of moving around. You need to have access to your contact information immediately at all times. Have it available on your phone, and better yet, sync it with your computer to make sure it is always up-to-date.

Follow these steps and you will be amazed at how your relationships with your contacts improve. You may not have a photographic memory, but everyone else will think you do!

About the author: Kathryn Mager is a communications and marketing specialist who has worked for companies such as Disneyland and ThyssenKrupp Technologies AG. Currently, Kathryn manages ONDiGO’s user community. ONDiGO is an automated mobile CRM for small business owners.

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