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Friday, October 26, 2012

PR Girl's Guide To: Organizing and Keeping Contacts

We've all done it. You go to a conference or a networking event, collect a hundred business cards, and then do absolutely nothing with them. Next scenario. You're organizing an event or looking for a job reference, but you're not quite sure where that person's email address escaped to. You deleted that one email.... you can get it back right?

Wrong. Or possibly, but it will be difficult (who likes digging in the trash anyways?). My advice is to start organizing and managing your contacts today. Here are some helpful tools and tips that I have collected over the last bit of time. Some are stolen, but others were learned painfully.

Create Your Database
I may be a bit biased (Google / Android fanatic here) - but Gmail has a fantastic messaging and contact management system. Click on the "Gmail" text with an arrow down, and you'll open a little menu I bet you never even knew was there. Click on 'Contacts' to open up a list of everyone you've sent emails to.

Remember the Details
Once you add someone to your contacts, open their contact page to add in other details. When did you meet this person? What projects were they working on? What are the name of their kids? Add these details in the 'add notes' section to the right of their contact information. They will be impressed that you remembered the details, and you'll be better at recalling who's who.

Archive Messages
Don't delete emails. Instead, archive them. Once you have answered the question, solved the problem, returned the message - archive it. See that little file folder button? Click it. Your message will be filed away - you can still search for it - but it will not be in your immediate inbox. I hate a cluttered inbox. Google gives you 10GB of space, use it!

Sync it!
Sync your contacts with your devices. You'll be happy when you find yourself in a pinch. Let's say for example, driving down the road while trying to plan a last minute event. Who was the event planner at the Great Dane? Oh yeah, Michelle. (Side note, they have fabulous and accommodating event planning staff.)

Put it Somewhere Other Than the Cloud
Cloud-based computing is excellent. I love it. But the fact of the matter is that everything fails occasionally, or maybe god-forbid your email account gets hacked and wiped clean. Sad day. Google makes it easy to download all of your contacts as an Excel file. Do this. Save it to your computer, on a flash drive, on an external hard drive. Print it out for all I care - but have a copy somewhere OTHER than on Gmail.

How do you manage your contacts? If you haven't started already - do you solemnly swear to start today? Your job seeking, press placement, professional networking, event organizing self will thank you.

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