Managing Your Contacts

In the era of social networks, it's not clear how to manage your address book. Until now...

Stever Robbins
6-minute read
Episode #280

Use a Single Master Book

I just returned from a 3-week trip to California, where I caught up with dozens of friends and completely missed several others. Why? Because my friends had profiles on different social networks that hadn’t been updated. They figured I’d magically know whether to find their latest on Facebook or LinkedIn or Plaxo or Cardscan or Outlook or Yahoo or whatever profile they use most. Argh!! 

Choose a single place to keep your master address book and have your own copy of people’s information there. 

Choose a single place to keep your master address book and have your own copy of people’s information there. When you hear someone has moved, immediately copy their information into your contacts book. It’s way easier to try to keep your address book up to date when you hear of changes than to try to figure out on the fly which of a dozen different online profiles of your friends is the right one.

Also, you want your address book on your desktop. Windows or Mac, your desktop address book integrates with your email and calendar. Plus, by keeping a local copy of everyone’s information, you’ll be able to reach them even if your internet access goes down or if the social network data gets scrambled.

Use a Program to Merge Social Networks

On the Mac and iPhone, I use CoBook. CoBook links my social networking sites to my desktop. It pulls contact info from  current information, and gives me a composite view of a contact’s information with my local information and whatever’s out in The Cloud. I can see all of it in one place and decide which to use or import to my desktop.

Record Limited Information for Each Person

When you have too many points of contact, it’s hard to know which to use when, so keep your contact system as simple as possible. Don’t record all of a person’s information in your local contact book! For a work-only contact, get their work phone number and email address only. Also find out who to contact inside their firm if they leave someday and you need to get to their replacement.

If it’s someone you also have a personal relationship with, get their non-work info. But only one phone number and one email address. Ask them which of their dozen email addresses they check most often, and record that. Also record any email address that is likely to be permanent, like a college alumni email address. Get their cell number, as it’s likely to stay the same even if they move or switch carriers. 

Scan Your Book and Networks Before Traveling

Before you travel, search your address book for everyone in cities you’ll be passing through. Because people check in when they’re traveling, or because they may have moved without telling you, also check the two main social networks.

On Facebook, type into the search box: “friends who live near” and then type the name of the city you’ll be visiting. I would have seen my old friends if only I’d typed, “friends who live near san francisco” before I left. 

On LInkedIn, click the tiny word Advanced next to the search bar at the top. Then type the text "Locationin the middle column. The word Add will appear. Click that and add locations. In this case, I added "Greater San Francisco Bay." This will show you all contacts in a given city, but not necessarily surrounding areas, that's why.... 


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.