Earlier this month I had the opportunity to spend a few days with our staff writer, Erin Thursby, while pitching Art for Cures‘ Pink@Heart project at One Spark in Jacksonville, Florida. The event was a huge success and we made some fabulous contacts over the course of the five day event. Coming home, the next few days were spent doing data entry and figuring out how to organize all of the contacts we had made into something actionable.
Being freelance and constantly networking, I am familiar with having to wade through handfuls of business cards and promotional postcards after events, art shows, and conferences. My prior system involved notating everything by hand with a date, location, and any notes on what was discussed or actions I needed to take. There was always a card (more than one) that wouldn’t take pen, or would smear beyond anything legible, and there wasn’t always an opportunity to stop and make notes.
Yay for digital. It changed everything.
A long-time fan of Evernote, and in an effort to go paperless, I wanted to find a way of organizing contacts to make everything accessible and cross-referenced. I’d already been tagging images – sorting them into mood boards and reference material for my work – so I played with it a little and came up with the following system for my business cards and I couldn’t be happier.
HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR BUSINESS CARDS AND GO PAPERLESS
First, sign up for a free Evernote account. Using this link will help us cover the expense of our premium membership…
- In Evernote, create one folder called “Business Cards”. One folder is all you will need, no matter how many projects you have, you can cross-reference everything using tags. You will want to keep ALL of your business cards in this one folder.
- Everytime you get a business card, snap a photo of it with your Evernote app on your smartphone or tablet. Do it as a photo, doing it as a post-it note creates a larger file and takes longer.
- Name your photo with the date, the contact’s company, name, or both; whatever is more relevant. This system is for you so do what works. For example, for me I would label it “042314_StateFarm_Kirk”. Sometimes I will include something identifying in the photo so I know where I met them, but most times I just make note of it via tags. Example, “One Spark”, “Jacksonville”.
- Cross-reference everything with tags, I don’t find a need to file business cards with their coordinating project. And even if you forget to title your photo, which I do on regular occasion, Evernote will date it for you and you can look up everything using your tags so you can add it in later if you choose to.
PRIORITIZING INTO A FOLLOW-UP PLAN
I prioritize all of my business cards (bc) by tagging them with the following system:
“bcAction” – Follow up this week as soon as possible.
“bcNext” – Follow up next week; make sure to shift your tags each Sunday as necessary.
“bcBack” – Valuable, but not actionable right now. Keep them in mind, but backburner for now.
Tagging everything with a specific project it may apply to will help as well.
IMPLEMENTING IT ALL INTO AN ACTION PLAN
Organizing things so you know what to act on won’t help you if you don’t follow up, so make sure you do. One thing that helps me is reviewing everything Sunday night for the following week. I make a checklist – usually by hand, but sometimes in Evernote – so I know what to pull. The best part of this system? I can easily change the tags in Evernote without having to move files around.
With this system, Evernote syncs with online cloud storage so you are covered. But. I am working on another article, though, regarding my recent mobile dependency failure though so, trust me, it pays to keep an address book as a backup. Always have a backup. To go truly paperless, you need to tie in with Dropbox or some other type of backup storage online or off.