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A lesson in value exchange: The LinkedIn Outlook Toolbar

3 min read

Marketing Strategy

If I’ve done business with you over the past month, chances are I’ve tried to connect with you on LinkedIn. No, it’s not because I’m looking for a job. At the suggestion of David Nour at a recent NAW event, I decided to download the LinkedIn for Outlook Toolbar. About a month after installing, I’m now a little bit obsessed—and thought it might be cathartic to pass along some of the advantages.

When you first install the toolbar (here’s a good how-to), you’ll immediately have all kinds of opportunities to allow LinkedIn to “clean up” your address book and add plenty of new contacts to your network. While I’m sure plenty of people stop at that point, there are two more pieces of the functionality that have really made my life a lot easier.

There are a variety of features included in the LinkedIn Outlook Toolbar, but what really sold me is the “info” button that now appears above every e-mail. Now, all e-mail I receive comes with an “info” button providing me with the opportunity to connect with the sender on LinkedIn (see the screen grab to the right). Sure, people have been including their LinkedIn profile in their signature for years, but the quick rollover preview and the one-click invite has made the process  easier and certainly more attractive.

One of the most useful features of the LinkedIn Outlook toolbar is the “grab” function, which allows you to highlight contact information and save it to your address book. Just highlight and “grab” the signature and the information is saved to your Outlook address book. If you’re lazy like me when it comes to saving and sorting contacts, this may just change the way you look at relationship management.

There’s a lot more you can do with the toolbar, such as utilizing the “keep in touch” feature—which provides reminders to get in contact with certain people after a set amount of time. It’s this type of integration and feature set that has brought me closer to LinkedIn than I’ve ever been. I’m now transitioning from a reactive user (i.e. “yes, I know you” and “here’s my new title”) to a user who is now participating in groups and actively testing out some of the newer applications. All it took was a feature that added value to my comfort zone.

If you’re looking to engage current customers or recruit new ones, it’s helpful to think about how they do business, and how your product can help them along the way. LinkedIn’s “grab” feature is somewhat peripheral to their mission, but the value alone got people talking and spreading the word.