Many of the systems for organizing business cards focus mostly on compact storage or alphabetized filing as their major selling points. The Contact Keeper business card organization system takes a different approach and not only lets your organize business cards, but also gives you a way to keep detailed notes on each person. In the spirit of transparency I want to make it clear that the product samples for this review were given to me by the nice folks from Contact Keeper to review here.
The Contact Keeper is currently available in 3 sizes. there is a small, medium, and large, with the medium and large sizes being almost identical in format and functionality. In the above photo you can see the medium size (the large is behind it) opened up with a business card inside and some notes below. The way that the contact keeper works is that the yellow sheets that you see in the binder come pre-cut with the slots and locking tab that allow you to very easily slide a business card in for safe keeping. Below the slots there is space for you to take notes about your new contact.
In normal situations without something like the Contact Keeper, you would be forced to awkwardly write notes on the back of a tiny business card with nothing to lean on for support. Alternatively you cuold write on another sheet of paper that will eventually get separated from the card itself. The notebook style of this business card organizer gives you not only a unique way to organize business cards, but also a functional tool that makes it easy to write and keep notes on your contacts.
In addition to having the pages that are dedicated to just one business card, there are also pages that let you store multiple cards (3 in the medium size, and 4 in the large size) with smaller spaces for notes. These are better page layouts for a quick introduction with someone, and the one card per page format is better for sit down meetings where you expect to have a longer discussion. In addition to the pages that hold business cards and allow you to take notes relevant to your new business card, the Contact Keeper also comes with some other pretty helpful features. Inside you will find a 1 page calendar for 2010 through 2013, some simple day planner sheets, an envelope for your receipts with a table on the front to track your expenses, and finally in the back there are some regular ruled note pages.
The front and back side of the medium and large sized versions also have a clear window for your own business card, and some larger pockets to store a quantity of your own cards, or anything else you might need. In addition to all of these unique features, you will also find some old stand-by features like a pen loop for your favorite pen, and elastic straps (front and back inside cover on the medium, inside front only on the large) to help keep you ready to get to your next empty page in a flash. The large version of these business card organizers also has a clipboard clip on the top inside back cover to help hold onto any handouts or notes you might pick up along the way.
The small version of the Contact Keeper is more like a business card wallet than a notebook. Inside the flap of the small version, there is a sticky pad that is slightly smaller than a standard size business card and there are two pockets on either side to store business cards. As you collect cards from contacts, you can quickly jot notes down on the sticky pad, and easily remove the note, stick it to the card, and store the card inside one of the pockets. The small version also has an elastic strap to keep the entire thing shut while in your pocket, which is nice because it avoids having the individual sheets of the sticky pad from getting mangled while in your pocket.
Personally I find the medium and large contact keepers to be the most practical and innovative of the group for organizing business cards. They really serve the purpose of not only organizing your business cards, but also giving you a fantastic and easy way to keep notes about each contact. While the small version does give you a unique way to take and keep good notes, you do still run into the size restriction that makes it a little awkward to have a good surface area for writing. I only found one minor issue with the large version, which was with one of the elastic straps. It seems like the elastic strap on the inside cover didn’t return back to its original tight state, and remained a slight bit loose. It still functioned perfectly and didn’t cause any issues for me, but it did make me wonder if this is just a minor random issue on this one, or if the others will eventually have this problem. I think this is a pretty minor issue, but it is something worth keeping an eye on and being aware of just in case.
You can find the nice folks from Contact Keeper on Twitter @ContactKeeper or you can also just head on over to the Contact Keeper website to get a better look at their products, and even pick some up if you are like me and think they are a really innovative way to better organize business cards.
Update: These are now available from Goldspot.