Creating a Contact Database

If you’re like me, you look forward to the summer months to catch up on your writing, free from the time drain of school visit travel. But you’ll find yourself in better shape when the school visit season cranks up again this fall if you spend just a couple of hours a week getting organized in July and August.

Organizing your school visit contact information is a great place to start.

If you haven’t done so already, transfer your contact information to a database that you can sort and resort in a variety of ways. The simplest way is to create a table in Word, or other word processing program, with the paper in landscape format. Eight simple columns might include:

 • Date of contact (i.e. the day you met or the day you visited the school)

• State

 • City 

 • Email of host or contact

• Host/contact Name, Address (e.g. Jean Jones, Village Elementary School, 1050 Main Street, Appleton, NY 13421)

 • Position (e.g. teacher, librarian, principal, PTA Programs VP, etc.)

• Source (e.g. school visit, conference, workshop, service group, etc.)

• Notes on the experience

By having the columns “state” and “city,” you can quickly sort and see where the bulk of your contacts are and where you might need to make more.

The “date” column shows you when it might be time to approach them to suggest a new visit (usually 5 years following the initial visit, after the kids have cycled through the school)

And from your “Address” column,” you can create mailing labels for future marketing endeavors.

For those of you who are more adept database creators, you can design a similar form using an Excel spreadsheet program or Access database program. For example, if you learn how to use Excel after you’ve already begun your table in Word, you can easily transfer the data from the Word table to Excel. But I’m still at Square One with these programs, so a Word table is the simplest answer for me.

Do you have a different database program that you’ve found useful? Have any tips on keeping track of contacts? I’d love to hear about them!

4 Comments on “Creating a Contact Database”

  • Wow! Thank you, Alexis. This is a great way to get organized for the fall. It’s a simple format and easy to set up.

  • Thanks, Anne. While I have 8 columns here, I keep wanting to add more, but don’t want my form to strech on forever. For example, after I sent this post, I came across names of teachers who contacted me about a possible visit, but didn’t get back to me. I plan to record their data and send them a postcard, too, in the fall, telling them that I hope they keep me in mind for assembly programs in the coming year.

  • I find Excel a little more flexible for sorting data, linking cells and including multiple pages on one file. But Word’s tables are a great boon for keeping track of lots of info.

  • You’re right, Lois. Microsoft Excel excels as a spreadsheet and data catcher. A Word table is a good “trainer” for those new to data organization.