I spent a bit too much time this week trying to update contact information on some of my sources. I discovered that, while I do have plenty of interesting people in my address book, it was hard to remember their specialties — the professions, hobbies and other characteristics that make these people good sources. Worse, I don’t have what I would consider an ideal way to track this information.
I use my GMail address book for keeping track of all my contacts. I can easily access it anywhere, and GMail automatically adds individuals I correspond with via email. To an extent, it’s even searchable — you can search by name or employer, or even a partial name. But I discovered that you can’t search for other information in an individual record. According to the GMail Help Center, it’s something they’re working on.
Why is searchability so important to me? I take notes on everything, and computerize as much as I can, simply so that I can search for keywords later. To an extent, I don’t organize things on my computer. I have a very general hierarchy that files get saved to, but I rely on naming files with keywords and searching for those words later. The same goes for my contacts and sources — I’m spoiled by the internet, and the concept of tags. I want to be able to type a keyword, like ‘accountant’ into my address book’s search tool and get a list back of all the ‘accountants’ I know. How much time have I wasted in the past by having to go through unlabelled or untagged contact lists?
I’ve considered the possibility of a database or an Excel spreadsheet. I’d consider it again if there was a simple way to import information from my GMail account and an easy way to tag the information. While I’m at it, I’d love to be able to easily import my Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter contacts at the same time.
Have you come up with a system for tracking your sources? I’d love to hear about it — I’m starting to get a little frustrated with mine.