Your network is an important group of friends, colleagues, and business associates—but does your contact list need a refresh? It’s time to attack that pile of business cards in your desk drawer and get organized. Putting a reminder in your calendar to repeat this task once every 3-4 months is a good idea to keep on top of this and never again wonder “what were their names, and why did we want to connect?”
It may seem like a daunting, time consuming task—when you have no time to spare—but here are three easy steps you can take to tackle your contact clutter head on.
Save all your contacts in the same place
Take a look at how you currently store your contacts. If you’re like most people, they’re probably all over the place: your phone, your email, LinkedIn, business cards at the bottom of a conference swag bag, etc. While doing a simple keyword search in your inbox can probably bring up the person you’re looking for, imagine if you didn’t have to sort through emails from years ago every time you’re just trying to remember the name of that person you met that time at that event.
Whether you like to store your contacts electronically or not, saving them in the same place is key for being able to find them quickly. Don’t have time to manually enter all the email addresses and phone numbers into a contact list? Consider getting a business card notebook, into which you can simply slide business cards in alphabetical order to create a phonebook. Better yet, right click on an email address in your Outlook and hit save to contacts. Sync your work email with your phone and you’ll have access to the list from there too.
Make sure you have the right information
Since you’re already going through your contacts, take this opportunity to update them as well. Has your contact gotten a new job? Have they moved to a new city? Have you entered their email as .com when it should be .ca? This may seem like a lot of work, but chances are you’ll know just by looking at it if you’ve kept in regular contact with this person. And if you haven’t, maybe it’s time to reach out—you can use updating your contact list as an excuse to start a conversation.
Keep it tidy
In the spirit of a spring cleanup, consider how many people you need on your list. Do you really need that person you met one time five years ago and haven’t spoken to since? Sure, it’s important to be well connected, but keeping your list as small as possible will make it easier to keep up to date. And just in case, if you absolutely need to contact your boss’, dentist’s, spouse’s, photographer friend, make sure you’re connected on LinkedIn. On the flip side, looking at your contact list as a whole might give you some ideas about who you want to add to it, and who in your contacts can introduce you.
Now that you have an organized and up to date contact list - keep it that way. Schedule a recurring reminder to go through these steps as often as you need.