What to do with all those business cards
Who are all these people?
Making use of all those business cards and scraps of names and notes!
As people checked into our hotel, they filled out a little registration card. We would enter their names into our register, which logged their names into the rooms they were assigned.
For years, we would hang on to the registration cards and register for each year, referring back to them each winter for our annual holiday card mailing and each spring for our peak season reminders. Occasionally, we would sort through them to send out a special card or reminder to invite people to visit us again for a specific event.
Even then, we knew that maintaining good relationships with people was critical to our business success. I do wonder, though, how many opportunities we lost because we didn’t have any capturing systems for people who just called in and asked for rates or for those visitors we had to turn away when we were filled to occupancy. Be that as it was, it was through this manual and rudimentary system that we maintained our database. Today, there are much more sophisticated systems.
Here are some keys to managing all of your contacts, which can help in managing and nurturing your client database and personal relationships.
Keep everything in one place
Organizing your contacts keeps your mind free to think, create, and innovate. Tools can hold the details for you (e.g., MS Outlook, ACT!, Goldmine). A manual or electronic database with a space for addresses will work.
Know where you put those names.
If you require multiple databases to organize your contacts, schedule regular or automated synchronization between them.
Clear inactive names
Clear out inactive names you no longer need. If you cannot picture the face of a contact, delete from your database.
Keep in touch with contacts
Stay in touch with your contacts. This shows them you are reliable and they can count on you. If hand-writing notes all the time does not work for you, use an automated web-based program that helps you select a card, write your message from your keyboard, and send it (e.g., http://www.Sendoutcards.com/5117).
File business cards
A small card binder is easy to carry and provides ready access—wherever you go. Or scan the cards and incorporate the data electronically (e.g., CardScan).
Stay up to date
With your contact lists current, you can always find that important person. Microsoft Exchange seamlessly updates your Blackberry database and synchronizes with your computer. This prevents time-wasting duplicate entries (e.g., http://www.sherweb.com).
Employees running amok? As time went on and I started to sense that our guests were picking up on a chaotic work environment, I knew there had to be a key to help us run the hotel more efficiently. A better, easier way to grow our business.
That’s when I joined the Chamber of Commerce. I was hoping to learn something that would help. At sixteen, I was the Chamber’s youngest member.
My fellow hotel owners were generous with their time and advice. They gave me a crash course in hotel management. That’s when it finally registered: I had a talent for strategizing and organizing.
You can use these key tips for improving your relationships––whether it is for your internal customers, your colleagues, or your customers and clients.
Encourage employees for their input, and listen. Each employee needs to take time to listen to ideas as well as instructions.
Put everything in its place
Can you and others find what is needed when it is needed? Maybe it needs its own place—physically or electronically or both. Labels help.
Sometimes it takes more than one brain to figure out what works for everyone. Brainstorm!
Make a computer file index
This is an efficient way to track what everyone is doing, because each project has its own process and work phases (e.g., Excel, SharePoint, or The Paper Tiger.)
Write an office procedures manual
Write one—or reorganize and rewrite your old one. A written document keeps your mission statement and work goals clear. These outlines of guidelines and practices helps employees know what to expect of their jobs, what is expected of them, and company practices.
Make personal work spaces
Allowing employees to personalize their work spaces gives them a comfortable working environment and helps them feel they belong. Happy workers are the most productive.
Allow personal desk lighting
Natural or full-spectrum lighting helps people focus on their work and reduces eyestrain, which increases productivity and enhances innovation. Good lighting also creates an inviting work space.
When you have the right key, the right systems, for maintaining relationships and managing processes, physical and emotional clutter disappears. And when it does, it becomes much easier to manage your time and energy.
This blog post is an excerpt from Anne McGurty’s book, Lost In Your Own Office. Available on amazon.com
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