Seven Essential Tips for Maintaining Your Business Contact List

How do you maintain your business contact list?

Just twenty or thirty years ago, business people kept all of their contact information in address books and rolodexes. Then, in the early days of email, people began to store this information within email clients or in Personal Information Management (PIM) software.

Fast-forward to the present day, and things have become rather more complicated. For a start, each contact record contains far more information than it did in the past. As well as multiple postal addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, people now have Twitter IDs, Facebook accounts and Skype names.

In addition, people need access to their contact list from a range of places and devices – their cellphone or smartphone, their laptop, their iPad, and their office computer…. and, needless to say, the lists always needs to be up to date and synchronized.

The technology exists to store and synchronize all this information reliably, yet many people still find themselves with many different sets of contacts, SIM-card based address books, and a host of outdated, redundant numbers in their cellphones. This article suggests seven simple ways to get your contacts organized for the modern world.

1. Choose One Main List

You will never get your contacts organized if you don’t choose one main place to store them. This can then become the list that you synchronize all of your devices with.

2. Have a Clear-out

Sadly, there isn’t technology that knows if people have moved office, no longer work for a certain company, or have changed cellphone provider. If you want a reliable contact list, someone needs to spend time verifying, cleaning up and filling in gaps on the information.

3. Abandon Manual Synchronization

Although Blackberries and iOS devices allow you to sync with desktop software using a USB cable, remember that we are now comfortably into the 21st century! Flaky manual synchronization should be left in the past.

4. Use the Cloud

Use a cloud-based service that allows for the storage and synchronization of contacts, such as Gmail, iCloud or Yahoo. That way, your contacts are available from any Internet-enabled computer, as well as all of your synchronized devices. As an even better alternative……

5. Use Exchange

The ActiveSync capabilities of Microsoft Exchange, either local or hosted, mean that all manner of devices including iPhones, iPads and Android devices can keep emails, contacts and calendars synchronized at all times. Once you are using Exchange, you only need to maintain the contact list that forms part of your Exchange mailbox and it can populate the address book on every device you own. It even plays nicely with Apple’s iCal!

6. Don’t Use Separate Phonebooks

Make sure your mobile devices are configured to save everything back to your main contact list—the one that you use to synchronize. Some devices, such as Android cellphones, allow you to merge contact details in order to remove existing duplicates.

7. Keep it Up-to-date

Once your contact list is in good shape and synchronizing to all your devices, be sure to maintain it. Add new contacts in full, so you don’t end up with “James 1, James 2, James 3” in your phone list, and delete any contacts you no longer need.

There’s no doubt following these steps will improve your efficiency and put all the contact information you need at your fingertips wherever you happen to be. Maybe it’s time to set aside some time for that initial clear out?