I just listened to the Building a Network cast again and have the following question. So far I used Outlook to safe contact info. Now, I changed from job and email client (Novell Groupwise). Because I may change jobs within a couple of years, I was thinking whether it makes sense to get my own software for this purpose and which I simply can take with me when moving elsewhere. It would be great if it has somekind of Crtl-Sht-K feature. Does anyone have a good suggestion?


Anandha's picture
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I use Gmail. Its free, works like a charm and lives in the "cloud" - so no need to take it anywhere.

Gmail also synchs to my Address Book on my mac & that synchs to my iphone.

And I backup the address book on my mac...


HMac's picture

I agree with the recommendation of gmail (my only gripe is that it seems to be determined to list contacts by first name rather than last. I would think I could change this, but I haven't invested much time to really find out...).

Other considerations are LinkedIn and Plaxo. A great advantage to these are that people update their own contact information if they use the service unlike Outlook, it isn't up to you alone to maintain contact accuracy. When someone in your Plaxo or LinkedIn directories change their contact information, you're automatically notified. Sweet.

And one more thing to remember, it's not required that you make your contact list visible to others in your network. I think it's more common to do so on LinkedIn (because of the nature of the service as being all about networking), and more common to keep your contacts invisible on Plaxo.

NOTE: I hope this doesn't sound like I'm shilling for either service. I just like 'em, because they, along with gmail, solve exactly the problem Brian is trying to solve. I hope others have additional services to recommend.


stephenbooth_uk's picture

I agree with Anandha and Hugh; go with GMail, LinkedIn or similar. I use both.

There are other products in the same market, Hugh mentioned Plaxo, not one I've ever used so I can't comment. A couple of things to be wary of in the Professional Networking space that LinkedIn is in, some such sites are very sales oriented and some will periodically (as often as monthly) email your contacts asking them to update their details. There are some sites where within hours of signing up you are flooded with emails from people trying to sell you things (reminds me of what Mark says in the building your network cast about networking events being full of 'small businesses wanting to glom on to big businesses who might haver contracts the small business might be able to fulfil'). The emails from the sites asking your contacts to check and update their details are just plain annoying to your contacts.

If possible have a look around and read their T&Cs and privacy policies before you sign up, talk to people who might already have used the services and get their input.

If you use Outlook on your PC (i.e. at home) then there is a toolbar you can download to integrate with LinkedIn to compare your network with your Outlook contacts to sync data, insert people in your network into your contacts and give you the option to invite people in your contacts to join your network. Similarly there is a Firefox plugin that works with LinkedIn and GMail so that when you receive a mail on Gmail from someone who is on LinkedIn you can see if they're in your network and have the option to invite them if they're not. LinkedIn will also sync contacts with other only services such as Yahoo! mail &c.


asteriskrntt1's picture

I use Outlook, Linked In and plaxo. I back things up on a second hard drive and on my iPod.

All are useful, although I have Office 2000 so my Outlook is not as powerful as it could be. Stephen makes a good point about the linked in toolbar. I think you need Outlook or Office 2003 or more recent to download the Linked In toolbar. Additionally, unless you have the 2003 or newer version, you cannot synch your schedule to your apple products.