E-mail Solutions: Searching All Contacts

Microsoft Outlook allows you to search all related e-mails, notes, and appointments regarding a particular contact in one easy step.

October 1, 2003

Dear Mr. Internet,
I use Microsoft’s Outlook XP and save all my important messages in various folders. Is there an easy way to find all messages related to a particular person in my Outlook contacts database without having to search each folder separately?—Wayne Carter, CRS, GRI, RE/MAX Realty Associates, Champaign, Ill.

Dear Wayne,
Fortunately, the answer to your question is a resounding “Yes!” As you’ve already found out, folders are a great way to organize your already-read e-mail messages according to criteria such as topic, transaction, person, and so forth.

Ideally, when you have your messages organized in this fashion, it should be as easy as opening the appropriate folder to find the ones you are looking for. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. For example, when I receive an e-mail from one of my many virtual assistants, I will sometimes put it into that assistant’s folder and sometimes into a folder that has to do with a specific project that VA is working on.

At first blush, this sounds like a recipe for extreme frustration and wasted time whenever you can’t remember exactly what folder you put a particular e-mail. However, the professional version of Outlook 2000 or XP makes it a snap to find all e-mail messages—as well as appointments, notes, etc.— pertaining to any client, vendor, or sales associate.

Instant Bloodhound

The secret to finding all pieces of information is Outlook’s “Activities” tab. Here’s how it works. Begin your search for related messages by opening the contact record of the person associated with the message you are looking for. The program uses the e-mail addresses of a contact to search for messages and memos. Then click on the "Activities” tab. The program will automatically search for all messages sent or received, journal entries, etc., that have any of the e-mail addresses for the contact record you have open. It also will look for messages sent to anyone you indicated in the contact record as associated with the person, such as an assistant.

Outlook will then give you a list of all applicable contacts with the name of the recipient, date of contact, folder in which the message is filed, and any other information you have set up your Activities program to include. You can then sort the items by name, date created, or folder, simply by clicking on the appropriate column head. You also can add or close any column by right-clicking on the column head. This will bring up the “Field Chooser,” which lets you select other fields you want shown in your list. For example, in my initial list, I didn’t include a column for people who’d been cc’d on the e-mails, but if I decide I need to know this, I can add it with the Field Chooser.

With this simple technique, you won’t ever have to worry about what folder a particular e-mail was saved in again. Outlook can find it for you in a flash. And anything that saves you time and frustration also will save you dollars as well.

Mr. Internet’s Tip of the Month

Over the years I have reviewed a fair number of online services that let you put your voice message within your Web site and/or your e-mail.

Until now, though, none of them were ready for “prime time” play. Either they were too expensive, of poor quality, or difficult to use. However, that has all changed because of a new service called AudioGenerator.

AudioGenerator is the slickest, highest quality, easiest to use, and most affordable online audio message service I have ever tried. Literally within minutes of signing up, I produced an awesomely clear audio message, complete with lead-in/lead-out music. There’s no limit to the number of messages you can create. All for $29.95 a month. Think what a great sense of personal rapport you can build when customers can hear your voice speaking on your Web site or listing pages. You can even include these audios in your e-mails.

Creating an audio message can be as easy as leaving a voice mail of up to five minutes’ length on the AudioGenerator Recording Hotline. The company will then convert you message into a Web-ready audio. Then the company will e-mail you a one-line text you can paste onto your Web site. Immediately you’ll have an active link to your own personal audio hosted on the AudioGenerator server. Or if you want to get fancy, you can record your voice, mix in music, and then upload the file as an MP3. These can run as long a 30 minutes. I used this process to create this Coach N' Click™ Tip message.

If you have a great speaking voice, this service will open a whole new world of client interaction for you. And if you don’t, hire an assistant or even a professional voiceover specialist to leave the messages for you.

Michael Russer, a.k.a. Mr. Internet®, is CEO of Russer Communications. He is a leading speaker and author in the real estate industry and has been writing about Internet marketing and virtual outsourcing since the dawn of the commercial Internet.

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