Acton Networkers


Contact Management Systems


In searching for a job (or keeping your network active when you have one), your contact information (e.g., who, why, when, what was said by whom, etc.) is one of your most valuable resources.  The purpose of your contact management system is to help you organize this information and your search process.


For the purpose of networking and searching for work, you use a contact management system for at least these three things:

1)     Contact Info:  You want the ability to record and subsequently search your contact information.  This would include name, nick name, title, company, address, email, phone numbers, your source, e.g., their website, the name of the person who referred you, etc.  You can also categorize this info along the lines of “hiring manager”, “networking contact”, “recruiter”, “former coworker”, etc.

2)     Contact History:  This means having the ability to track your correspondence with this individual and company – it’s a record of your conversations, emails and letters sent and received, as well as the version, date, and job objective of the resume you sent them.  You’ll be communicating with a lot of people as well as with different people at the same company.  It becomes very difficult to remember every conversation or the state of your interaction.  You would like to be able to access and then quickly see where you are in the process with a given individual/company.  Having access to a contact history is especially helpful when somebody returns a phone call.

3)     Contact process / follow up reminders   Think like a sales person.  They use a sales process with multiple steps, and often use sales management system software to help drive their efforts.  Their process might be: send a letter, follow up a few days later with a phone call, send collateral, set up a meeting, prepare for the meeting, etc.  It helps to have a process – a search process, contact process, follow-up process, interview preparation process, etc.   A contact management system helps automate this activity (what to do next) and when (scheduled reminders).

       The important thing is that you should maintain and use a system.  You have a number of options for doing this.   You don’t have to buy software, though some options are listed below.    Using a combination of things – a PDA and a paper notebook -- works almost as well.

Here are a few options for Windows users:

  • Microsoft Outlook – a good option if you already use it for e-mail, because it allows you to do many of the functions described above. For an explanation of how to use Outlook 2000 contact management features go to, In the left pane, click on Microsoft Outlook 2000, then under that, click on the "Using Contacts" folder.

  • Microsoft Excel – good for keeping a history of your activity. See a sample Excel spreadsheet (Virus check it if you download it) which a member used to track his efforts. It is simple and effective. To download with most browsers, Right click on the above link, and save the spreadsheet to your hard drive. Then, open the spreadsheet directly from your hard drive.

  • ACT! – popular contact management software.  $189 from

  • InfoMagic – useful for taking notes and organizing your data collection activities, e.g., save a copy of a job description that you pulled from a web site.  It doesn’t support email.  You can record names, addresses, etc, but it’s not nearly as good as a PIM (personal information manager) or PDA for this. 

    Free at
    An enhanced version is available for a small charge.

  • Bargain software – the office superstores, PC discounters and even discount retailers sell low cost personal information managers.  You can use these to enter names, phone numbers, etc.

       In addition, you can use a personal digit assistant (PDA). Most of these come with software that runs on your PC or MAC.  These have an address book, calendar, notes and to-do list capability.   Go to an electronics superstore or for information on these products.