This week’s guest blog post is from Contactually’s Katharina Cavano. Take a look at her tips for a clean contact database.

Tips for Cleaning your Contact database

For those of you not in the know, the KonMari Method was coined by Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizer who’s debut book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Uptook the world by storm with her simple yet effective decluttering methodology. The key to it all? Whether or not the item ‘sparks joy.’

Kondo recently released Spark Joya companion to her first book, that guides you through the decluttering, tidying, and organizing process as you move throughout your home and to different items in your home….down to how to fold particular items of clothing and where to place them in your drawers.

So where does that leave us? Sure, the KonMari Method is pretty easy to apply to your closet and that box full of paperwork you haven’t touched in three years. But can you make it work for you and the items in your life that can’t quite so easily be folded up and placed in a drawer?

Perhaps like your contact list or your network? This year, don’t limit your spring cleaning just to your home, try it out on your address book as well…it may make a huge difference in your networking and segmenting in the coming year!

Read on to organize contacts in your list…

No two relationships can be treated the same, we’ve all learned that lesson. But this can be especially crucial when it comes to your business relationships, where one email gone astray could jeopardize a hot lead in your sales pipeline, or a contact that went forgotten could become a lost sale when you finally remember that they had reached out to you.

At the end of the day, these things happen, but it’s a lot easier to prevent communications mishaps when you have a clearly organized and segmented contact list or database.

Sure, you can segment your contacts according to how you want to build up your network, or segment them by where they are in your sales pipeline, but no matter how you choose to segment, you’ll need to create a process for it all. Here’s where the KonMari method steps in. The guidelines for your ‘tidying up’ can translate directly to how your contact segmenting or in this case, some spring cleaning…you never know who you may discover buried in your address book!

The 6 Steps to Tidying Up:

1. Commit Yourself to Tidying Up

As with anything, you need to commit to going through your contacts. Sure, you’ll need to want to do it, but wanting isn’t enough here. Instead, set aside some serious time to commit to the process and get it completely done in one fell-swoop. That’s the hard part, organizing and cleaning through everything in one sitting!

One of the things that Kondo stresses is that if you do your organizing and cleaning piecemeal, you won’t get it all done. Take a look at your calendar, pick a day, and block off as much time as you think you’ll need (and a little extra) to tidy. Don’t let anything get in the way or distract you during your allotted time…just think of how productive you’ll be.

2. Imagine Your Ideal Lifestyle

via Excerpt from Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

What are you looking to achieve by organizing your contacts? If you find yourself with a clogged sales pipeline, you may be looking for a better way to segment who’s in there and what type of information they should be getting from you in order to streamline their journey through the pipeline.

Or maybe, you’re sending out your weekly newsletter to your entire list of contacts and you’ve got a high rate of unsubscribes simply because what you’re sending them isn’t relevant and you want to properly segment your contacts so they’re getting the resources that they want from you. No matter what your end goal is, write it down! Put it somewhere where you can see it while you tidy up and keep it there as a reminder of what your goal is by going through this process.

3. Finish Discarding First

Ah yes, the deleting part. This may feel like it’s going to be so much easier than throwing away clothing, right? You may be surprised with how difficult it feels to delete some contacts from your database. But, before you move on to the segmenting, you want to first clean out the irrelevant contacts leaving you with a clean slate to segment as you move forward.

If you were following the KonMari method for your clothes, you would need to take all of them out of your closet, your drawers and anywhere else they may be hiding, and lay them all out so you can go through them all at once.

Following in that vein, you’ll want to gather up all of your contacts from everywhere, your email address book, your CRM, your newsletter list and all those business cards you have sitting on your desk, and start discarding. There’s no easy way about it, so our recommendation is to start from the top and go through the list, all the while keeping in mind your end goal. If they aren’t quite relevant to that goal you’ve set out for yourself, then it may not make sense to keep them around.

There should be some easy wins here, like some personal contacts or business associates who no longer work in your industry. You cannot move forward and accurately organize if you have contacts in your database that are no longer relevant to you and what you do.

4. Tidy by category

Remember that end goal? Take a look at it and think about how you’ll segment and organize your contacts in order to find yourself crossing the finish line. If you’re worried about your pipeline, then organize your contacts by hot, warm, or cold leads. Or maybe you’re struggling to send the right resources to the right people and want to segment out your contacts by what type of information they want to receive from you.

No matter what the goal is, create your categories or segments and stick to them. There’s no room for the miscellaneous contacts here, if they don’t fit into one of your goal-related categories, and you haven’t deleted them from the database yet, then it may be the right time to consider doing so.

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 11.21.11 AM

via Mailchimp

According to findings from MailChimp, segmenting contacts can yield positive results across the board.  If you allow yourself a little leeway, it’s like creating a junk drawer in your kitchen…and we all know what happens there.

5. Follow the Right Order

This one is tough. In the KonMari method, it’s all about saving your sentimental items till the end, since those tend to be distracting and could take up all of your time. For our purpose here, we’ll say that following the right order is all about creating your list of contacts from your database, and starting from the top and going down. Don’t give yourself any wiggle room to skip over and come back later, chances are it’ll only distract you as you move forward. Look at the name, make your decision and keep moving!

6. Ask Yourself if it Sparks Joy

Last but not least, does this contact spark joy? No, most of these contacts probably don’t ‘spark joy’ in the same way that your favorite dress or book does, but think about sparking joy as the potential relevance to your end goal each contact has. Ask yourself, will keeping this contact in my database help me achieve my end goal?

If the answer is no, then consider it as one that doesn’t ‘spark joy’ and keep moving. The one caveat? If it’s essential but doesn’t necessarily give you joy, you should probably keep it. This isn’t your reason for not deleting a single contact throughout the process! Instead, it’s a way of understanding that not every contact in your database will fit into your neat categories, you may need to keep a couple that are essential or important to you but who may not have a home in a segment quite yet. Be honest with yourself here, and don’t hold on to anyone simply out of sentimentality!

Getting Organized

If you can extend the KonMari Method successfully to organizing contacts in your database, then you can probably organize just about anything. Spring cleaning is something that a lot of us struggle with and the rigidity of the method can be hard to wrap your head around at first, but achieving your end goal will be well-worth it at the end of your decluttering frenzy. Plus, once you’ve established clear segments for sticking with that goal, it’ll only make it easier to organize as you go. When you get a card at a networking event, you can very clearly place them in a segment or category, leaving no contact in no man’s land, or the dreaded junk drawer.

This blog post originally appeared on the Contactually blog.

About the author:

Kat is the Content Strategist at Contactually. She enjoys an evening with a good book, a cup of tea and plenty of social media feeds to scroll through. Have some thoughts? Hit her up (katharina@contactually.com) or tweet-tweet (@katharinaeleni)
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Vanessa is a wordsmith extraordinaire. Originally from Australia, she has travelled the world and the seven seas to write scintillating content for you to enjoy. She likes books, travel, vintage films and sushi (not necessarily in that order).

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