Contact and calendar management

revisiting issues with Outlook, Gmail, LinkedIn, iPhone 

I spent some time this morning reviewing the most basic technology tools for a business person: contact manager and calendar. I’ve gone back and forth between Google and Microsoft several times and finally settled on a Microsoft Office environment using Outlook last year for the reasons outlined in this blog post. It appears that the discussion below about LinkedIn adds another reason to prefer Outlook over Gmail. I also concluded that the Office365 personal product is better for me, a sole practitioner, than the Office 365 Prier for Business product. Periodically I take a look at what’s working and what is not in these basic work tools.

 

This blog post started as a conversation with Sara Rosenberg of Powermatch; she is a fantastic networking coach. I attended one of her member training sessions this week covering recent changes to LinkedIn. LinkedIn no longer supports the “relationship” section for contacts that I previously used as a simple CRM to keep notes on discussions I had with LinkedIn contacts. This tool is available through Microsoft Outlook that syncs with LinkedIn contacts and includes a “Notes” tab that allows for storage of this type of information.

Outlook contact management

iPhone issues – “Outlook for iPhone” product does not allow adding, modifying or deleting contacts. This is a problem since more of my contact management occurs on the go instead of at a desk. The native iPhone contacts manager had a known problem issue syncing with Outlook contacts that surfaced around 2013. The issue appears resolved now so this is my workaround. At this point, I don’t see much value in the Outlook for iPhone product despite its strong third-party reviews.

LinkedIn contactsOutlook automatically syncs with LinkedIn contacts. This will solve my current concern. I confirmed that the LinkedIn contacts then also sync with iPhone contacts (apparently a secondary sync) but that these are no longer identified as “LinkedIn contacts”. iPhone puts all contacts in one pool.

CRM – The current prevailing thinking is that small accounting practices should not use an integrated CRM. I’ve tried several CRMs and abandoned them. I agree simple is better. If I can use the “Notes” field for my purposes, this is better than an integrated second application.

Outlook Notes Field – I found useful information on using Outlook notes field in this article. I know that fancy formatting, tables and other tools are allowed in the Notes field but I prefer to stay away and use only plain text. There is a known history of issues with the stripping of formatting of Outlook notes when moving from one platform to another.

Outlook calendar management

Facebook events – Facebook integration is no longer supported in Outlook.  This is a problem because more of my appointments come from Facebook and Facebook Messenger lately and those appointments do not show up on my regular Outlook calendar. The workaround is that they do show up on my iPhone native calendar so the reminders are automatic. It is possible to remove the previously established connection between Facebook and Outlook on Outlook.com which removes all those residual annoying birthday notices. This remains a partially unresolved issue because I can’t see my complete schedule on the PC, I must use the iPhone to see a complete shot of the day’s agenda.

Timetrade – Timetrade scheduling tool does not integrate with the native iPhone calendar. For me, this leaves open the possibility of double-booking during a Facebook-scheduled calendar event (as happened once this week and may have cost me a new client).

If you are located in the Philadelphia area and have an interest in this type of technology topic, a program called “Old dogs, new tricks” is being planned for the near future. Please express your interest and I will extend an invitation.

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