Many of us often have a tendency, when networking, to add several new people to either Facbook/Twitter/LinkedIn using the information on their business cards, and leave it at that. But what happens when you go through your address book maybe two-three months later and have no idea who this person is. Yes, you could add a note to at least say where you met them, but what if you'd like to know more about them? How much information is too much information to know about someone?
Recently, this is where I found gist.com to be incredibly useful. As you'll remember, I reviewed Gist in the past, comparing it to Xobni, but this time, I decided to really look into it's functionality and see what it could do for me now that I'm doing more networking for my South Florida Social Geeks Meetup Group.
Part of Gist's power and functionality is it's ability to pull information from a wide range of sources, even ones that you either didn't ask for or didn't know exist. Currently, I have my account tied to my Gmail account and 3 twitter accounts.
The very first thing I did, which was one of the most tedious and time consuming, was go through the entire list, all 700+ contacts and clean them up.
Step #1- Get as many email address for your contacts as you can automatically
As you may have noticed, most websites, cloud services, and personal identities are all associated with your email account. If you have someone's email account, especially if it is one they use to log in everywhere, it makes it easier to learn more about them. Believe it or not, the best place to find email addresses is on Facebook.
Log into a Yahoo email account and use their contact import feature to pull in all of your friends' email addresses.
Step #2- Synchronize Yahoo contacts with Gmail contacts
This is actually easier than you think. All you need is an account over at soocial.com. Soocial.com let's you sync multiple web address books together into one central location and redistribute the data as needed. Plus, this account will be vital to the final step.
Step #3- Use either Soocial's automatic Deduper tool or manually shrink the list of duplicate contacts.
DO NOT use Google's Merge tool. I have found that it sucks and will turn your address book into complete disarray.
Step #4- Set up Gist account. Link that account to Gmail and Twitter.
Step #5- Clean up contact list of duplicates manually
Since Gist pulls in from both Twitter and my Address Book, I needed to associate personal Twitter Accounts with the corresponding individuals in my Contact List. This could easily be done using Gist's primitive merging tool. I say primitive because it does not allow you to select which of the multiple entries takes priority, nor does it let you specify which field's should be used.
Personal Note: This poor implementation of merging makes me long for the one currently being used by Soocial.com When multiple contacts are selected, it shows what is contained in each field for each one of the selected contacts, and lets you manually edit them, making it fully customizable and personal.
While cleaning up the personal Twitter accounts, I also create company contacts for corporate Twitter accounts and remove those Twitter accounts of people I only follow, but don't know or care about contacting.
SIDENOTE: When you connect this account to you Gmail, it will also scan your messages for additional email addresses that you might have forgotten to add to contact list. Now is a great opportunity to do just that.
Step #6- Import LinkedIn contacts
Gist has extremely accurate instructions on how to go through this process. This will automagically fill-in gaps in someone's past or current position, as well as create a link to that company's LinkedIn page and when viewing the contact, whether you are connected to them through LinkedIn or not.
Personal Note: I would like to be able to see whether I am connected to individuals without having to open up their profile. It would be nice if there was a way to change the view, similar to Outlook, where I could add columns so I could see, at a glance, who I'm connected to, how, and if they are following me using the same social network. I honestly don't need to know how important they are too me, or the number of connections, I want to see the actual connections themselves.
Step #7- View contacts that are missing either companies or last names
This is where you start to experience the true power of gist.com. Using the filtered view, if the contact has an email address, Gist will search the web and look for other accounts connected to that address. You can find the person's website, Delicious, YouTube, FriendFeed, MySpace, last.fm, Wordpress, Blogger, even their last name. As you can imagine, it's sometimes extremely nice to be able to names with faces or online identities. However, for someone who may want to remain anonymous, this could be extremely scary and help give you an idea of how much information about you there is out "there".
Step #8- After filling in all the gap, export ALL the contacts as a .vcf. Import that .vcf file back into soocial.com and use their Deduper again.
Step #9- Give the list one more once over to remove any extra duplicates it might have missed.