[techtalk] Tech-Talk: EMAIL - Create Custom Contact Fields

Darci Hanning darci.hanning at state.or.us
Tue Apr 10 13:46:32 PDT 2018


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 This Week's Tech-Talk: GMAIL & OUTLOOK

1. VIDEO ... Create Custom Contact Fields in Gmail and Outlook
2. ARTICLE ... Create Custom Contact Fields in Gmail and Outlook
3. COMMUNICATING ... "Propose" and "build" when talking

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Tech-Talk: GMAIL & OUTLOOK - Create Custom Fields


There once was a time when we used to have a card on file for each of our friends and colleagues. We could write whatever info we wanted, in any open space.

Now we do it digitally. There are designated slots for each type of data we want to remember. So the other day when I was updating a colleague's contact record, I couldn't find a place to put her LinkedIn info.

I could type it in the Notes field, but I didn't want that area to become a dumping ground for miscellaneous information. I really preferred a slot specifically for social media addresses.

Did you know that there are more than 250 preset choices you could use in Outlook ranging from data like hobbies to birthday to language. But what if you want your own fields or want to rename existing fields?

For instance, you may want to add a username, a maiden name or even their favorite kind of ice cream. If you put this information in the "Notes" section, it isn't easy to sync to your mobile device or export for other uses.

The solution? Create your own!

Add a New Custom Contact Field in Gmail

The process is very easy in Gmail and Google Apps to add a custom field for a contact.

NOTE: The field is only good for that one name. If you want it to appear in others, you have to add it individually.

[add custom field in Gmail]

·     In Gmail, click the Mail link in the upper left corner and click Contacts.

·     Add the bottom left, click the Add button.

·     Scroll to the very bottom and select Custom.

·     Where it shows "Type here" -- type the new field name.

·     In the blank space to the right, add the details for that field and hit enter.

That's it! Here's how it will look.

[add custom info]

Create a New Field in Outlook
Applies To: Outlook 2016, 2013, 2010 and 2007

NOTE: Any new field you create in Outlook is good for every contact within the folder. If you have more than one folder (as many folks do) you will need to recreate it in each ... if you want this type of data in them. For example, because I have different folders for: 1) Business Colleagues, 2) Clients, 3) Personal, etc… the new field will need to be added to one contact in each.

[add new field]

·     Open an existing Contact record.

·     In the Contact tab, click All Fields in the Show section.

·     In the Select from drop-down window choose the type of information that you want to add (Miscellaneous fields, Personal, etc…)

·     At the bottom of the screen, click the New button.

[add new contact]

[new field]

·     The New Field window will open where you can add your custom field information including the name type and format.

·     In the Value column, add the specific information for that field for the contact you are editing.

·     In the main Contact menu, click Save & Close.

Adding The Data to the New Field You Have Created

Now that you have created a new field, and added the info for the one contact, you'll need to put in the data for each person. Here's how...

·     First, open a Contact record.

·     Again, in the Contact tab, in the Show section, click on All Fields.

·     In the Select From drop-down box go all the way to the bottom and choose User-defined fields in FOLDER.

CAUTION: You will see "User-defined fields in this ITEM" at the TOP of the list, but this is not where you find your new field -- it is "User defined fields in FOLDER".

[user-defined field]

·     The new field you added will be displayed and in the Value column you can type in your custom contact information.

·     Click Save & Close to update the record.

CAUTION: Don't get upset when you can't see the new field in the various layouts of your contact information such as Business Card or Address View. This level of detail is so specific it only appears in the expanded version of your contact's data.

To see the information you've added...
·     Go to All Fields and
·     Then User-defined fields in folder

Yes, it's a little cumbersome, but the benefit of being able to have all the custom information you want at your fingertips can be worth it!


Communications: Interactive Skills
Good techniques: propose and build

OK, I admit it ... these two initiating behaviors (proposing and building) are my favorite interactive techniques. I like them because they are positive and forward-moving.

I like them because they are constructive. They are idea generators. They are solution oriented.


PROPOSING: a new suggestion
·     "I'd like to arrange a follow-up meeting with the Task Team."
·     "Shall we go around the room to see if there are any changes to the agenda?"
·     "Let's take ten minutes to read the proposal and prepare to discuss."

BUILDING: extends, adds or develops a proposal
·     "You're right, John, and perhaps we can also include the program team."
·     "I like that idea, and want to take it a step further."
·     "We could even add prizes for the best presentation!"

The more you propose new ideas and build upon others' suggestions, the more productive your conversations will be.

Special Trick: A Build Redirect. Let's say you are discussing how to handle a situation and someone suggests an idea you don't like. Sure, you can disagree with the suggestion directly. Or, in some situations, you could use the "build approach" in an unusual way to redirect the conversation to what you believe.

Person 1: "I think we should paint the room yellow." (a proposal)

Person 2 (you): "Building on that idea, green would be a good color."
(a redirect build)

When you introduce a contrary idea, but preface it with a "building on that" type of phrase, you get a better reception to your position. It softens the blow of a disagreement. You make it sound like you're in agreement, working together. The conversation continues without a lot of angst and often ends with a solution you like.


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Darci Hanning, MLIS
Technology Development Consultant
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