I had previously posted on the usefulness of LinkedIn (a business networking site) for marketing a law practice. I continue to use it as a way to maintain connections among professional colleagues, friends, school alumnae, and the like. As I explore the site and its usefulness (it recently underwent an overhaul of the layout for its home page, adding functionality) I discover new things. Although I had noticed a link on the homepage talking about an Outlook toolbar, I did not pay much attention to it, since I do not use Outlook for my office (although I do use it extensively at home). It was not until I saw a post today on a blog called SocialTNT that discussed the toolbar that I realized the potential it had to those LinkedIn users who do use Outlook as a contact management tool.
The main feature of the toolbar that was discussed in this post was the “Grab” function. This allows you to highlight a signature block on an e-mail (which often provides complete contact information on the sender), click a button on the LinkedIn Outlook toolbar, and have it plug that information into a new Outlook contact entry! Up there with the business card scanners that do the same thing, this makes building a contact database much easier. However, for those who rely heavily on LinedIn, there are other features:
- A button that connects you to essential areas of the LinkedIn site directly from Outlook;
- A Dashboard button to help you manage your contacts and communications within your LinkedIn network;
- A search button;
- A button that will help you bring up LinkedIn profile information on the sender of a particular e-mail; and
- The ability to scan your e-mails to see who you communicate with regularly for recommendations on who to invite into your network.
The LinkedIn site also provides more information on the toolbar, its features, and how it works. The SocialTNT site states that the Grab function alone makes the download worth it. Other than that, they say,
“85% of the LinkedIn Outlook toolbar is clearly a promotion of LinkedIn’s contact management services and will only work for you if you’re a) already an avid user of the network or b) think you want to start becoming more involved in that community.”
If you are not a LinkedIn user, only the Grab function seems to be worth it, and even then only when people who e-mail you use informative signature blocks. However, if you do use LinkedIn as a marketing tool, I would definitely recommend downloading it from their site.