250 Gmail Contacts
By Default Google allows you to take an action on a maximum of 250 Google Contacts at a time. We wish they would approach this the same way they do Gmail, with the option to take an action on an unlimited number of messages. But that's not currently the case. This is fine if you have fewer than 250 or maybe 1000 contacts. But what if you have 12,000 or more?
Gmail Contact Groups
Gmail Contact Groups are super handy if you want to email a bunch of people at once. I bet you didn't know you could select your Group to email all members at once from the Gmail Compose window! (hint: click on To:) They're also great for organizing your own contacts. They're not great for sharing contacts, in fact they can't be used to share contacts .... unless! you add a super handy service like Gmail Shared Contacts (drop us a note to learn more). Take the same sharing concepts of a Google Doc or Google Drive folder and you basically get how Gmail Shared Contacts works. The app allows you to share a Group of Contacts much like you would a group of files or folders in Drive. You can grant read or edit rights, share inside and outside your domain, and more. The service is super easy to use and extremely handy when collaborating.
You gotta have a Group to use a Group #duh
Getting all your Contacts organized into Groups is easy, unless you have a ton of Google Contacts! We have a bit of a workaround when working with thousands of contacts (25,000 is the maximum). To add thousands of Contacts to a Group, there are a few options. When uploading Contacts to Gmail, Gmail automatically adds them to a Group called "Imported" with the date of the import. A Group is basically a Label. Before you run the import you have two options. You can delete all of your contacts and then import or simply import and create the dupes. The dupes can be removed (the Group label remains) via Google Contact's dedupe feature under 'More' ... you'll have to dedupe about once per 1,500 contacts or so ... for whatever reason the dedupe tool only processes about 1500 Contacts at a time. The 'new' Contacts might do more, we only tested on the traditional Contacts app since this must be used to export/import anyway.
It's not perfect but it works
If you're looking for an absolutely perfect solution this might not be it. In testing the Contact counts were off by a few percentage points on average (under 5%). We didn't run exhaustive tests however. We may have just started with some dupes already for example. We think this works very well for most use cases. This method takes 10 minutes for 25,000 contacts compared to repeating a task 100 times (we didn't want to know how long that would take).
Don't forget about CRM apps
Honestly, if you're working collaboratively with thousands of contacts, Google Contacts isn't the right solution. You should be reviewing a Customer (aka Contact) Relationship Management (CRM) service. ProsperWorks is used by Google and is our favorite. Why? Because it's so easy your employees will actually use it! CRM services are designed specifically for this purpose while Gmail Contacts are really intended for personal use.