Several years ago a friend of mine told me about a seminar that he attended where the presenter – the inventor of the DayTimer, if memory serves, put all of our different data collection methods in perspective; he had the audience count the places where they collected information, and came up with, among others:
- Personal E-Mail
- Corporate E-Mail
- Other notes
- Business Cards
- Cell phone / Smart Phone
- Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)
It was shortly after that discussion (days, really) that I set aside a week to collect all of my contacts and appointments and enter them into my Outlook PST file. I then imported all of my e-mails from all of my various accounts into my primary e-mail account, but with a plethora of Folders so that i could keep everything organized. Although I have since changed my primary e-mail account a few times and am now on hosted Exchange, the system I came up with then essentially remains intact.
Since 2004 I have a couple of new information repositories that I rely on quite heavily… I also have thousands of contacts within those and it is nearly impossible to keep track. Until recently when I received an e-mail from someone I might have to check my LinkedIn and Facebook pages, as well as my Outlook Contact list. A couple of years ago I said to someone ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I could track all of these profiles and contacts in one centralized location? Obviously I was not the only person who felt that way… and somebody was listening!
Introducing Outlook Social Connector for Outlook 2010. It gives you the power of many of your social networking sites within Outlook. With the Outlook Social Connector you can expand your social networks and stay up to date without leaving Outlook.
Outlook Social Connector adds a block at the bottom of e-mails and Contact pages; it shows the profile picture, what networks you share and are connected on, as well as recent activity. Within the Activity window you can filter by:
- All Items
- Status Updates
Under Activities I can see new activities on Live Messenger (new friends), Facebook Posts and status updates, as well as updates from any connected services – so in the image of my own connection you see an item that says ‘Mitch is about to leave on a trip to Baltimore, MD.’ This post was brought into Facebook (www.facebook.com) from its connection to TripIt (www.tripit.com), which means that I now have more than simply the sum of the parts from the connections.
I might have a rule that filters all mail from a contact to a specific folder, but often those lines get crossed when I have e-mails filtered, for example, by project. The Mail tab allows me to see all of the e-mail from a specific contact, no matter where the mail sits. The next tab lists attachments as well, which gets quite useful when your box is congested!
Whether on Facebook, LinkedIn, or MySpace, all of your contacts’ status updates and activity will show up here.
Currently there are social connectors for:
- Windows Live Messenger
That is not to say that there won’t be others, or that you cannot make one of your own and distribute it (maybe make a few bucks!). For more information and to download the specific plug-ins visit http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/social-connector-for-microsoft-outlook-HA101794273.aspx. They are architecture specific, so before you start downloading make sure you know if you are in x86 or x64 version of Outlook (if you don’t know then you are probably using x86!)
Oh, and because these files are all executables, they can be downloaded to be included in a Microsoft Deployment Toolkit infrastructure. Just create a new application package, and set it up as a dependency to your Microsoft Office (or Outlook) application package.