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By Bonnie Bills | Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Office 2010 for Business: Focus on Outlook

Karen Fredricks’ favorite feature in Outlook 2010 is its new Social Connector, featured in this tutorial from her course Outlook 2010 New Features.

lynda.com has been rolling out Office 2010 courses since its launch last month, and I’ve been talking with our Office 2010 authors about their experiences with the latest version of Microsoft Office. Today’s Q&A features Karen Fredricks, Customer Relationship Management expert and author of the lynda.com course Outlook 2010 New Features.

Q: An overcrowded inbox is something most people wrestle with. Does Office 2010 have features that make this easier?

A: Absolutely. First of all, if you find that there’s a lot of spam clogging up your inbox, you can change your spam filter settings. That will insure that those messages about your mortgage and various body parts will be automatically sent to the Junk email folder instead of to your inbox. You can also start “training” Outlook by marking individual messages as spam if you’re being bothered by a specific individual or organization. Quick Steps is another cool Outlook 2010 feature designed to whip your inbox into shape. For example, I can create a Quick Step to automatically move all messages with the word “sale” in the subject line to a specific folder and forward a copy to my boss once I’ve read it.

Q: You’re very experienced with contact management software solutions. How is Outlook as a contact manager?

A: Technically Outlook is not a contact manager, it’s a PIM (Personal Information Manager). A PIM allows the user to keep track of emails, addresses, appointments, notes, and tasks. A contact manager makes it easier to track the interactions between you and your contacts. For example, in Outlook you don’t associate an appointment with an individual; with a contact manager you do, which means you can cross-reference your appointments from either your calendar or from a contact record. Some Microsoft Office suites include Business Contact Manager, which adds true contact management functionality to Outlook.

Q: How does Business Contact Manager stack up against other contact management programs?

A: If your business consists of a single employee, or if you work for a large company that doesn’t need to share its contact information, thenBusiness Contact Manager is a nice choice for contact management.  In addition to being free, Business Contact Manager adds in several true contact management functions, including relating contacts to appointments and notes, allowing for project management, creating a pipeline based on sales opportunities, and reporting. However, if you want to share your information with several members of your team, have true mail merge and e-market capabilities, and do a bit of advanced database customization then you’ll want to look at a true contact management system such as ACT!.

Q: What’s your favorite feature in Outlook 2010?

A: That’s an easy one! I absolutely love the new Outlook Social Connector. I’m a big fan of social networking. Now I am able to see directly from my incoming emails whether or not I am connected with the sender. My incoming emails include the photographs of the people I am connected to, as well as updates from their sites which makes emailing feel so much more personal. And, if we’re not already connected, I can send out an invitation at the click of a button. As an extra bonus, the incoming email now provides me with a list of the previous email I’ve received from the sender as well as a list of any attachments they might have previously sent. How cool is that?

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