Over the years, there have been two services in particular that claim to keep my Outlook Contacts. They both claim to keep them safe. They both say they can sync with your Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail, etc. So which is better?
Plaxo offers Plaxo Basic free and has fee services such as Plaxo Personal Assistant and Plaxo Platinum Sync.
Plaxo is an online address book service, plain and simple. With Plaxo Basic, the claim is that all your contacts from all your various sources are collected into one smart address book. Cool, right! All you do is import your contacts from all your sources – including email, phones, and social networks using their import tool inside your account. This tool imports from over a dozen different locations.
Then they help you to clean out duplicate entries by using a tool they call Dedupe. This tool is awesome to use. It allows you to choose which entry to use or merge entries. I have come up with some problems when names are not exactly the same. Therefore, some cleanup may be necessary.
Plaxo will store all your contents in their “cloud” for safekeeping. This is a lifesaver when your computer crashes and you’ve lost everything.
Now, so far, things are not completely automated. You still have to go in and press some links and buttons for all this to occur. If you want better optimization, they offer Plaxo Platinum Sync. This is where the cost comes in. If you have hundreds or thousands of contacts, I suggest you look into this feature. For $5/month they offer 2-way, real-time synchronizing, which keeps your address book consistent and accessible through your communication tools. For instance, if someone changes their information on Facebook, your Plaxo is updated and therefore your Outlook, mobile devices, Gmail, as well as your calendar are all synced.
What if you don’t want the Platinum Sync, but you want something else that will assist you with a lot of the mundane stuff like looking for new contacts, continually searching online for new information, etc. Plaxo offers their Personal Assistant for $6.67 per month. Again, if you have hundreds or thousands of contacts, this could really benefit you. This assistant proactively searches to make sure that your address book is constantly updating with the most current information. Also, you can upgrade to both Platinum with Personal Assistant, their most popular package for another cost. Make sure you check it out before deciding.
LinkedIn is a business-related social networking site and is used mainly for professional networking. LinkedIn has similarities to Plaxo in that it to collects contacts from various sources. They offer a Basic account free as well, but their contact importer seems very simple. It imports from your address book on Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, AOL and other web mail providers or a file from Outlook, Mac Mail, other email applications or a spreadsheet like Excel. For me, it wasn’t as simple. I wanted to import from my Outlook, which mean that I would have to create a CSV file or a vCard file, which definitely wasn’t as easy as it sounds. I came up against complications where I had to upload my file to web mail source, then import from that web mail with LinkedIn. Of course, I loaded my account years ago, so I’m sure it’s slightly easier… Well, one can hope. Upgrading costs from $19.95 to $74.95/month if you purchase annually or from $24.95-$99.95/month on a month-to-month commitment. You can compare their plans to see what fits best for your scenario.
LinkedIn provides ways to make Connections, Join or Create Groups, and ask for Recommendations. They also allow you to build on your specific skills, thus creating a sort of resume that can sell you to potential employers. For me, the recommendations have been an excellent way to gain kudos from people who I have done work for in the past. I take those recommendations and copy them to my website thus enhancing my website. I have also begun to list all of my skills so that I look even more professional.
I’ve never had enough contacts to warrant purchasing the updated versions of either of these services. LinkedIn is the one that seems to get more push to Connect with people, yet Plaxo is simpler to use and has an automation that I like. Event though I use LinkedIn the most, I have more contacts in Plaxo because it really takes MY contacts, the way they are in my applications, and then merges them into its cloud. Whereas with LinkedIn, it takes all my contacts as stated, but there is no merging, no duplicate removal or merging unless I upgrade. In addition, there is a huge push by LinkedIn to invite your friends to open their own LinkedIn account. Plaxo makes the suggestion to send YOUR info to your contacts. It just feels less intrusive to SEND my contacts, my contact information.
After you choose which service fits you the best, take time to familiarize yourself with that service. Get to know where things are and what that service can do for you. From my prospective, LinkedIn is more of a networking tool, working as a Social Network. That doesn’t mean that Plaxo won’t get there.
To this day, I still don’t know which I prefer more. Give each of them a whirl, and then share with me what you discovered.