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2011-09-11 16:40:23

Using iPhone To Prevent Memory Loss

Some people never forget a face, some never forget a name.  The truly blessed can put both together and seem to run into people they recognize by name every time they leave home.  Those gifted few can even remember how they met the guy or gal they ran into on the street.  For the rest of us, the iPhone comes to the rescue.

Being a Neanderthal who once had a car with no power steering, no power brakes, and a stick shift – and liked it – I’m usually slow to embrace technology.  Rather than saving time so that we can spend more of it being productive or relaxing, most technology products seem to tether us to a screen in what sociologists call “machine dependence”.  We’re constantly looking at email, Tweets, texts, sites, etc. etc. etc.  Stuff that actually reduces the time we have to be productive.  Often makes me yearn for the era of the rotary phone, before answering machines and pagers.  When my better half suggested we buy iPhones, I was skeptical.  It seemed like another bottomless pit of wasted time.

Then one day I stumbled on an iPhone feature that actually solves a real world problem.  The one about faces and names.  And I didn’t have to buy an app.

I’ve been using Outlook for over 20 years and never paid much attention to the feature that allows a picture to be attached to each contact.  But recently I discovered (well after every other iPhone user in the universe knew about it) that when I attach a person’s photo to their Outlook contact record, then sync Outlook and iPhone, their photo appears when they call me.  Nice.  But it also appears when I look up their contact record in the iPhone standard contacts app.  Name-face, face-name.  Now when someone calls I have their number (if not blocked), name and face.  But that isn’t the end of it.  Here’s the kicker.

Real estate people often speak with 100+ different people each week, many of them other agents, escrow officers, etc.  Some we speak with regularly, some are contacts specific to a deal.  The additional feature that I’ve found invaluable is the ability to use my photo software to add captions so that I know not only the name, face and number of the caller, but also why I might want to talk to them.  Sure, we can add notes to an Outlook contact file, but adding a caption to the photo that appears when the phone rings can give us a reason to either take the call or send it to voice mail, depending upon what we’re doing at the time.  For example, if I’m meeting with a client and the phone rings with a call from an escrow officer working someone else’s deal, I’ll let it go to voicemail.  If the call is from the escrow officer working the deal belonging to the client I’m with, it might be relevant to the meeting I’m in at the moment, so I’ll take the call.

What if I don’t have a picture to add a caption to?  No problem.  I just substitute a caption by itself for a photo, so that I see this on the screen when a call comes in:  “Escrow officer for 123 Main Street.”

My Outlook file contains over 200 contacts for real estate agents in my area, many of whom I’ve never met in person or have only briefly done business with.  Each of the agents has a caption on their picture that says something like “Agent:  XYZ Realty.”  As a courtesy, I try to pick up or return agent calls immediately, as opposed to calls from timeshare salesmen, which I never take or return.

How about a client I helped buy a condo on the beach 6 years ago, but haven’t seen much since?  I add a caption to his photo: “Bought beach condo in Malibu, 2005.”

If you’re as bad with names and faces as I am, adding captions to photos is a quick and easy memory aid.  I need every memory jogger I can find.


Copyright 2011  John A. Souerbry

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