I posted yesterday about my playing around with LinkedIn. After that post I downloaded the Outlook plug-in and played some more. This is a helluva neat tool, helps to improve your social networking impact with very little effort.
What this 'little' plug-in does is actually a very simple approach pulled out in a very smart experience. It will scan your mailbox, find contacts you mail often, and allow you to invite them to the LinkedIn site from there. All done within a few simple clicks.
I'm loving the feature to sync up the contact details from LinkedIn with my personal copy in Outlook. This seems to work a lot live Live Contacts - part of the MSN Live experience! (tm and all that jazz). Keeping my network of data in sync is quite important to me.
The killer feature for this utility, and probably one of the reasons the network is growing so fast is the ability to simply let it trawl your contacts and invite the ones you contact most frequently. However it felt a bit invasive, kinda like spamming them. But, on the plus side, it was a very painless experience for me!
Anyway, the feature I am loving about this is the dashboard it gives within Outlook. Little reminders are put there such as who has updated their details in LinkedIn, birthdays which are coming up, which mails you need to reply to and more. Feels like having your own PA! ;-)
While doing the invites, I started wondering where the boundry is. Do you really want to just stop at the professional network? Do you want to include your friends and relatives? Considering that most of my friends have some linkage into the world of IT, I found it hard to know quite who to invite. I ended up just inviting a slew of contacts because I network with all of them in some way!!!
Looking below the covers a bit, I get the underlying reason why Google might want to buy this company. They could basically tap into the social network scene at the very root and create an experience which benefits the individual, and massively improves the knowledge Google have about you and your contacts, network, and trends.
It will just be a matter of time for Google to get their applications embedded into phones and other devices and offer a totally connected experience like the Nokia presence feature. Have your calendar and expected location shared with others, walk near them, get informed of their up to the minute running plan, arrange for lunch at a click based on linking with restaurants, and share the lunch networking experience over the LinkedIn via some form of a bulletin on what that person is currently working on (like the answers page).
Very cool stuff.... Glad I'm in IT! :-)