Create and use shared contacts

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Note: These steps apply to customers who have the Office 365 Small Business plan, which is no longer available for purchase. If you're using a different Office 365 for business plan, see Manage mail contacts.

Shared contacts represent people outside your organization who can be displayed in your organization’s address book and other address lists. Shared contacts don’t have a mailbox at your organization; instead, they have an external email address and they can’t sign-in to your domain.

Why use shared contacts?

Do people in your organization regularly interact with many of the same colleagues, partners, or vendors outside your organization? Who keeps track of the contact information?

Instead of each person trying to maintain their own list of contacts, you can add contacts to the shared address book and include information like email addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and even details, like the person's title, department, or manager. It's more efficient and everyone has access to the same up-to-date information.

And that's not all:

Note:  Office 365 Small Business Premium has a limit of 1000 shared contacts.

Create a new shared contact

To create a new shared contact, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to Office 365 with your work or school account.

  2. In Office 365, select Admin. Or, select the app launcher Office 365 app launcher icon , and then select Admin.

    Office 365 navigation options
  3. Under Users & groups, select Add users, reset passwords, and more.

  4. On the Users & groups page, select Contacts, and then select Add new Add .

  5. On the Add a shared contact page, enter the following information:

    1. * Name   This name is a unique identifier for this contact. It appears in the address book, on the To: and From: lines in email, and on the Contacts page. It's required. You can enter the first and last name of the contact here too.

    2. * Email address   Enter the external email address of the shared contact here. It's required. Email sent to this contact is forwarded to this email address.

    3. Company, Web page address, and Office phone  These fields aren’t required, but this information is displayed in the shared address book.

  6. Select Next.

  7. On the Add more information page, provide additional information for the contact, which is also displayed in the shared address book.

  8. When you’re done, select Finish.

Need to update the information about a shared contact? You can edit it by selecting the contact in the Contacts list, and selecting Edit Edit . When you’re done making any changes, select Save.

Add a shared contact to a distribution group

A great thing about shared contacts is that you can easily add them as members of distribution groups, just like you do with people inside your company. This helps people inside your company collaborate more easily and efficiently with people outside your company.

To add a shared contact to a group, create the shared contact, and then go to Users & groups > Groups, select the group you want to add the contact to, or create a new group, and add the contact as a member.

Note:  Shared contacts can’t be owners of a group.

For more information, see Create and use distribution groups.

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