Your online address book shouldn’t be a dumping ground of everyone that you’ve ever met. Sure, you never know when you’re going to need to contact that person you met three years ago in the mall, you know, the one that worked for that company that you keep trying to sell to, or buy from, or work for. But will that person remember you if you haven’t contacted them since? If you feel that the person you just met might be worth keeping in touch with in the future, go ahead and enter all of their contact information into your address book as soon as possible after meeting. And, as a best practice, send them a short email or connect through Facebook or follow on Twitter to let them know that you appreciated connecting with them and look forward to staying in touch. This way, the likelihood of them remembering you when you do reach out to them a year from now will go up exponentially.
Alternatively, if you really don’t think you have any interest in keeping in touch and if you wouldn’t take the time to write that contact info down in your physical, bound-paper address book, they definitely shouldn’t be in your online one.
When you go to add your contacts to an online service like Facebook, it helps if they’re organized and up-to-date. That person whom you met in the mall probably won’t “friend you” if they have no clue who you are, and the only people who’ll agree to your request are those you contact often, so you’d be better off cleaning out the list on a regular basis. But how to begin?
For starters, think of categories. Organizing your contacts is easy, since many web-based emails have sections for nicknames or category listings. The easiest groupings are those that you’ll remember: close friends and family. After that, you can group them according to contact type: type of business (media, accounting) or the name of the company that they work for.
As you go and add them to the categories, delete those that you either haven’t heard from or haven’t contacted in two years. Why two years? If you haven’t had to get a hold of them in that amount of time, then you never will.
The only exception here is family. Be sure to save them, since you never know when you might have to send that cute kitten forward to your second-cousin Martha.
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