I won’t sugarcoat it. I let my contacts database go. For years. Like four years.
Web Contact Us Icons On Post It
The reason I began updating it is because a client sent me a signed copy of one of Harvey Mackay’s books where he talks about how his contact database is the lifeblood of his business.

I went to look at mine and was rather appalled by how outdated it was. Wow.

I’ve spent hours deep in Nimble (my CRM), LinkedIn and Twitter in order to update information about people, figure out who has changed jobs, and just catch up with people I’ve lost contact with. It’s been a lot of work! My brain is fried.

But I’ve learned a few things.

1. Keep your database up-to-date — I let mine go because of life issues and because social media made me lazy. Why did I need to update my database when I could find anyone on LinkedIn or Twitter or wherever. Bad move.

By letting my database lie fallow, I lost track of a lot of people — and am rather shocked at how behind I am on where people are in their lives. Social media only goes so far in helping you maintain connections. If you want real connections with people, you have to reach out on a regular basis.

When you keep your database updated, so says Mr. Mackay, you can make good stuff happen — good stuff that gets returned to you in some way, shape or form. You can refer work to other people. You can congratulate people on job changes or the birth of a child. You can catch up with people and find out how you can be of service to them.

And, you can do sensible drip marketing — the kind that’s not obtrusive or bothersome. The helpful old-fashioned kind many of us used to do before marketing automation tools let us blast the hell out of people without rhyme or reason.

2. Create tags that make sense to you — Once I got deep into my database, I realized I had more personas than I thought (I initially created two). I now have five. Each person in my database is tagged by persona or person type (not everyone is a persona). Then I created tags based on how frequently I want to keep in touch with people.

Now I can do a search by persona or person type + contact frequency and have just the group I want. It’s been a lot of work setting things up this way but I’m confident it will save time in the long run.

That, and my database will remain updated. 😉

3. Update your LinkedIn profile — I’m rather surprised at how many people have outdated LinkedIn profiles — that or they have contact information that’s outdated.

If your job profile is up-to-date, take a minute and make sure your contact info is linking to the correct website and is showing the correct contact email.

4. Brand your LinkedIn URL — I’m also surprised by how many people have non-branded LinkedIn URLs (e.g. www.linkedin.com/in/name).

It’s pretty easy to add your name to your URL: Click the function that lets you edit your profile, then click the “Edit” that’s next to the URL beneath your photo (don’t click the URL itself). Scroll down a bit and to the right you’ll see the “Your public URL” box where you can change your URL. Easy.

5. Delete your dead Twitter profile — I’m sorry to say this, but if you have a few followers and haven’t tweeted since 2012, I recommend that you delete your Twitter profile. It doesn’t look good.

Have you had to update an outdated contacts database? Have other tips to share? Please do!

  • Holly

    I’ve been trying to figure this out as well. Can you go into more detail on what you do to maintain a database, how often you do it, etc? I understand inputting the information initially but I’m sort of lost on how to maintain and how much time that takes. Gah!

    • Holly — In the old days, when I had better habits, I entered people I met. I used to do a lot of face-to-face networking. Then I simply kept track of them and when I learned stuff (spouse’s name, kids’ names, life events, etc.) I’d record it. I also entered in all my customers. But then I stopped using ACT! and tried Google Contacts, then Highrise. After a while, I had about four or five different places where I had contact names and everything was a mess. This mess is what I ended up entering into Infusionsoft — and I never cleaned it up.

      So now I’m updating people’s information — you can find much of it on LinkedIn, Twitter, and company websites. And now, when people email me, I enter stuff right away in Infusionsoft. I keep it open almost all day. Infusionsoft also has a task manager, so I’m able to enter tasks by contact name — which helps a lot! Then I have a record of things. And, Infusionsoft syncs with Gmail, so now I have the email trail.

      As for contacting people — it depends. Some people I want to stay in touch with: friends, colleagues, prospects. Others I want to nurture.

      What you really need to do is create new habits — try one thing at a time and see if it works for you. If it doesn’t, try something else. What I’ve learned, being in business all these years, is that you have to create systems that work for you — not what someone else says you should do. For example, Infusionsoft is somewhat complicated to use, which is why I didn’t use it to its potential initially. So, I started off simply getting in the habit of using the “My Day” task recording feature — and once that habit was built, I then started on another one.

      Read their book: Conquering the Chaos: How to Build a Successful Small Business. It’s because of this book I completely changed my website two years ago. Why? They said, “Follow your own advice.” So I did. Made all the difference. 🙂

      • Holly

        Thank you! I am finding networking to be a big source of client
        referrals for me so I’m trying to be more serious about CRM. I looked
        into the system you are using but it’s a bit out of my budget for where I
        am right now. For the moment I was using my Gmail contacts list and
        there is a notepad item where I can input info about the person. What
        I’m doing so far is when I meet new people I try to input their info a
        week or two later. Let the cards pile up. Now I’m just trying to figure
        out how to remember to contact them again down the road. Work in
        progress I guess!