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Using Your Email Contacts List Efficiently

An excerpt from Debbie Mayo-Smith's May 2015 - Business Quick Tip Alert.

If you'd like to subscribe to Debbie's emails or read other useful business related tips you can do so here She doesn't release them very often and when she does I always find them worthwhile.

Debbie's productivity and email tips are applicable to anyone.

If you're using Outlook or Gmail for your emails this is recommended reading, if not you can probably adapt the concepts to your email tool.

 So You Think You're Using Your Email Contacts Well, Do You?

This is a wee departure from my normal quick tips. Please take the time to read - you'll be glad you did.

I do a lot of small group in-house training. After the session I walk from desk to desk for one-on-one help. What I consider appalling is almost every person I see is ignoring their Contacts. They offer you such value when used.

Just last week one lovely lady showed me her contacts - it was an email folder with emails saved from the people she wanted to keep the details of.

Here is my list of five must do contact actions

1. Create a contact
Just because you start typing their name in the TO column and it autofills does not mean you have that person as a contact. Outlook remembers the last 2000 names you've typed. It's simply auto-completing.
To save someone as a contact in Outlook simply drag and drop the email into your contact folder icon. A new contact will open with their name and email address filled. The text of the email will be in the contact to so just scroll down and drag and drop their other address details into the respective fields.
Watch how in my Outlook Boot Camp video.

In Gmail open the email, hover over the little person icon next to the email address and select add to contacts.

2. All your activity with that contact
Once you have a contact you can click on the activity tab of their Outlook contact (2003-2010) or pull up the little grey bar at the bottom of an email to see the activity in the people pane (2010-13). Activity being emails, appointments, tasks

In Gmail, when an email is open on the very right side is a small envelope and a drop down arrow next to it. Click the more actions arrow and select recent mail from.

3. Categorise (group)
Outlook contacts are normally viewed in a mini business card format. You can change the view and group them - by company, location, phone for example. Another way is to add categories to your contacts, and view them sorted this way.
You'll find categories in 2003-7 in a little box at the bottom centre of a contact. 2010-13 it's on the home ribbon. You can create as many categories as you like and assign as many as you like to each contact.

Let's stop right here and take in the impact of categorisation. It is stunning. Stunning! All the things you can do it with this concept. Renewal dates, what services they're using, are they a supplier, position, region, what month their birthday is.....

When you sort your contacts by categories, and an individual has been assigned 4 categories, they'll appear in contacts four times.

In Gmail -open a contact and select 'add to groups' which is on the bottom left.

Why is this so great? Your answer is on to the next tip

4. In Outlook you can do a personalised email merge. You can select either all your contacts or to a specific, category (2003-2007 Tools>Mailmerge) in 2010/13 Mailmerge is on the home ribbon.

Sorry no go in Gmail.

5. Bring contacts in and out
You can import database details from an Excel spreadsheet into Outlook Contacts and likewise, you can export your Outlook Contacts into an Excel spreadsheet. It's in the Outlook File menu>Options>Advanced>Export.

In Gmail, go to your account settings>Accounts and Imports>select Import mail and contacts.

Source Debbie Mayo-Smith

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