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Corporations spend countless billions of dollars, collectively, building a contact relationship manager (CRM) application. Then they spend billions more on tracking contacts and leads, and maintaining that content. They all run into the same problem: Every day, people change jobs and with it their contact information.

LinkedIn has solved this problem by allowing people to maintain their contact and job information. Before people make a career shift, they tend to dust off their LinkedIn profile, spruce up their summary and job descriptions, and do other things to improve their profile. Then once they get the new job, they update their LinkedIn profile, and notify their contacts of this change.

It is a good idea to cultivate your contact list and make it as complete as possible today, so that when it comes time to changing your career, there is less work for you to do. Here are some tips:

  1. Tag Everyone

    Create categories and assign people to these categories. Some categories I use include Clients, Vendors, Classmates and Friends. When I send people an email through LinkedIn, I have one more option to slice my contact list. Besides location, industry and company, which the contact controls, I can add this Tag parameter to narrow my communication to those people who are more likely to respond to my correspondence. The last thing you want to do is to inundate people you know with irrelevant messages. Respect their time by giving every contact at least one tag.

  2. Skills Recommendations

    There are contacts in my LinkedIn contacts list who know me only through the message boards. Still they have recommended me for my skills when they haven't seen me use them. When you give a recommendation, you put your reputation on the line. If you have not benefited from a contact's skill, do not recommend them. It makes your recommendations that much more valuable.

  3. Relationship and Contact Info

    Under your contact's profile card, you have two tabs, one called Relationship, the other called Contact Info. The Relationship tab allows you to add notes, reminders, a description of how you met, and another opportunity to tag them. This information can help you maintain a good relationship with them, and reconnect with those contacts that you have no idea how they came into your sphere of influence. The Contact Info tab allows you to add more information to connect with them, like phone numbers and messaging accounts. Bear in mind this contact information is what you enter, so it can get out of date.

Filling out your connections with the people sharing your world helps you build a stronger network and saves time when you are mining your contacts. Take the time to update your LinkedIn contact list.

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