Managing your contacts isn’t as simple as it used to be: you need to know your contacts’ office phone numbers, cell phone numbers, email addresses, websites, and even Twitter profiles to have a good chance of being able to get in touch with them. An old-fashioned address book just can’t keep up. On the other hand, many customer-relationship management (CRM) tools are a little bit overkill for someone who just would have relied on a Rolodex back in the day. These tools provide a happy medium.
- Google Contacts: Gmail has become one of the most popular email providers and using its built-in contact manager is simple. New improvements for Google Contacts continue to be rolled out, including tools to make them easier to organize, and there are a variety of plugins available that improve the abilities of Google Contacts. Etacts is just one of the many plugins that add tools to Google Contacts.
- Mac Address Book: If you use a Mac, Address Book is already tied in to most of the software you use, making it an easy option. You can even keep it synchronized across multiple computers with tools like MobileMe.
- Microsoft Outlook: While Outlook, on its own, may not be the most flexible of contact management tools, adding the Xobni plugin turns Outlook into a much easier to use piece of software.
- Gist: Use social media, like Facebook and Twitter, to keep up with your contacts? Gist can make the process much easier. When you look at a person’s contact information in Gist, the site pulls in their most recent social media updates and blog posts so you quickly get an idea of what they’ve been up to lately.
- Plaxo: If you’ve got contacts all over, Plaxo can provide a quick and easy way to pull everything together. The web-based application also makes it easy to maintain your address book and get updates when people change their contact information.
- BatchBook: BatchBook offers a half-way point between simpler contact management tools and full-blown enterprise-level CRM. Geared towards small businesses, it allows you more flexibility than its alternatives, as well as integration with a variety of social media tools.
- LinkedIn: While LinkedIn is ostensibly a social network, it does offer an easy way to keep track of your business contacts. Because most people take care to keep their LinkedIn profile up to date, especially when they change jobs, it provides the easiest way to make sure that you have your contacts’ most recent contact information.
- Thunderbird: Thunderbird is, first and foremost, an email client. However, the built-in address book offers unexpected opportunities. Because Thunderbird is open source software developed by the same organization as Firefox, there are thousands of plugins available to customize how you interact with the software in general and your address book in particular.
- Flexadex: One of the closest online alternatives to an old-school Rolodex, Flexadex is a stripped down tool that allows you to take any approach you’d like to your contacts. Basically, it’s a simple tool that gives you a short space to fill with whatever information you’d like. Your entries are alphabetized.
- Highrise: Highrise is a CRM tool geared towards smaller organizations. However, an individual can easily use the web-based application to manage contacts. It offers easy ways to collect a variety of information about your contacts.
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