OK, that was probably not very original, but I really need to get my contact act together.

I mentioned in an earlier post about being in reaction mode – and one of the ways to help this situation is to get a better handle on my contact database. I tried Outlook Business Contact for a while, but after many phone calls with their tech support,helping them debug the software, I just gave up and have been limping along with the regular Contact part of Outlook for the past few years.

After researching several other CRM solutions, I installed ACT. While still in the early learning stages of this new software, I see that it integrates pretty well with Outlook – although I don’t know exactly how at this point.

So I imported more than 1400 “contacts” from Outlook into ACT! and started weeding and feeding. After the initial purge of duplicate cell phone numbers created in my BlackBerry that ended up in Outlook, I am down to a slightly easier to handle 900 or so contacts to touch – many of whom are very old potential leads gleaned from bursts of marketing activities and will likely prove to be dead ends. 

There is no real rhyme nor reason for how I am doing this review, but here’s what is happening at this point as I start to learn the program.

From the bloated ACT! database:

  • High level scan pulling out a name that is familiar – someone I know I have worked with or at least auditioned for at some point.
  • Locate the company file in my Outlook folder and figure out when I first ran across this contact and what the relationship has been.
  • Check out their website to see if the contact information is current
  • Enter this information in ACT!
  • If I have had contact with more than one person at a company, I turn the Contact into a Company and add all the contacts.
  • Then I send a short email to the contact letting them know that I am getting organized and checking in.

I have deleted several contacts entirely because no website exists and/or emails bounce. Most of the emails have resulted in nice notes back thanking me for getting back in touch.

This process is pointing out that the contacts I imported from Outlook were woefully incomplete. For some reason, my diligence in right clicking and adding people to my Outlook Contacts stopped sometime last year and many contacts never made it over to ACT! So one of my new routines is to make sure that any contact has actually been added to my contacts – but because I still don’t know how ACT! is actually integrating with Outlook, I am stuggling with that part of the process – where to actually enter the contacts – Outlook or ACT!. I don’t want to do both – that seems like a time waster.

So, if anyone knows what filters to use so that I don’t end up with 800 duplicate entries in ACT! as I re-import changesfrom Outlook to ACT!, or if there is a super easy step I am overlooking – please let me know!