How to keep your business contacts synced across social networks

I just read a great post on “Work Awesome” last week that asked the question: “How do you pick your friends on social networks?“. I thought I’d share some of my insight into five key business networking hubs  that professionals need to keep synced with their business rolodex. Feel free to bookmark this post and share with your colleagues who wonder how to get the most from social networking sites from a business angle.

How to pick business friends on social networking sites
How to pick business friends on social networking sites

Every professional should approach the art of friending strategically and with greater seriousness like your career and reputation depends on it. And, trust me – it does. I think “People you may know” is a great place to start on all three key social networking sites but the webmail importer is a far more strategic way to approach “friending”:

1. LinkedIn: Without doubt, this should be the CENTER of your business networking universe as it contains the most accurate information mass resume / rolodex / conversation ecosystem you could find. 75 million professionals, millions of companies and tons of opportunities for professionals from finding jobs to collaborating on business. You want to make sure your LinkedIn network is an accurate reflection of your real world professional connections.

The easiest way to do that – find your business connections from your email. LinkedIn has a feature called webmail importer that makes it trivial to find and add your business contacts in your email client to LinkedIn. Fact is, most of them are likely to be on LinkedIn already. Also, all the remaining tips in this post will work more effectively ONLY if your LinkedIn graph is maintained accurately.

LinkedIn's Webmail Importer

Once you’re done with that, try to check the “People You May Know” widget on the top right hand corner of your LinkedIn homepage on a daily basis and add 2 – 3 relevant business connections that are recommended. Click “See more” once every week, to do a more serious update and you’ll be surprised to see a faceted search module on the left that lets you zone in on the most valuable connections for you to add. Just adding folks from your current job alone is priceless!

Faceted Search in LinkedIn's PYMK

Most importantly, make it a habit, to add folks you work on projects with on LinkedIn right away. To me it’s a daily ritual at the end of the day or week to add folks I’m newly working with on projects to LinkedIn. And, the best place to find them would be LinkedIn’s advanced search.

2. Microsoft Outlook / Xobni:

Pulling your  business rolodex (in this case – from LinkedIn) into your email client of choice is equally important, because it’s a great way to enhance the value of your email client. Your LinkedIn graph of connections and conversations can be pulled into Microsoft Outlook through LinkedIn’s Outlook Connector. Download it here.

As soon as LinkedIn and Outlook are connected, Outlook will start bringing in information about your LinkedIn network.  You should then start seeing profile photos and LinkedIn activity for any connection that e-mails you.

Xobni does the same through their plugin that works on Outlook and even in mobile – Blackberry. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with the iPhone, but chances are greater that your company has provided you a Blackberry at work. And, I’m guessing you’re also stuck with Outlook.

I haven’t tried it, but TechCrunch claims that the difference between Xobni and MS Outlook connector seems to be that “it does email search a lot better than Outlook and can resolve different identities to the same person in your contacts list.” If interested, check it out here.

LinkedIn information on Xobni tab

3. Google Contacts / Rapportive:

As a Google contacts user, I find myself increasingly syncing my gmail contacts to my iPhone and find it challenging that Google contacts doesn’t sync with constantly updated professional information on LinkedIn. Enter Rapportive, a browser extension, that pulls LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook information of individuals from the gmail address. It’s like Xobni, but for Gmail.

Rapportive features brings your LinkedIn Graph to Gmail

4. Twitter:

I’ve shared this before, but sync your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Now, this allows you to do two things. One cross-post from LinkedIn to Twitter (harmless) and from Twitter to LinkedIn (careful, I’d only recommend bringing over the #in tweets).

Secondly, you can auto-create a constantly synced Twitter list of all your LinkedIn connections. Oh, yae! Read more about that here.

5. Facebook: Personally, I keep my social and business contacts separate. I love using Facebook to keep my friends and family up to date and there may be the one-off business peer who I know socially, but it’s the exception. That said, if you’re a consultant type who uses Facebook for everything I guess you could still try the same tactics I recommend above for LinkedIn. It’s your call, but beware.

Do location sites matter to professionals? I added this since Work Awesome mentioned Foursquare, but frankly sites like Foursquare don’t offer any value to professionals – today.

That said, I do see value in knowing the location of my business contacts. You can already see this on LinkedIn’s Tripit app (for e.g.). Feel free to leave a comment on how YOU sync your business contacts across multiple social networking sites?

Disclosure: I work at LinkedIn, blog here (subscribe) and tweet @mariosundar.

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  1. Mario Sundar


    Good to hear. Adam’s your guy! 🙂

  2. Rahul Vohra

    Don’t know Mike — should we be in touch? I’m currently working with Adam Nash and Deidre Caldbeck right now.

  3. Mario Sundar


    Can’t wait.

    I guess you’re working w/ Mike Repass and team from @linkedin.

  4. Rahul Vohra

    Hey Mario, this is Rahul from Rapportive — thanks for including us in the write-up! Stay tuned for more: we’ve got some really cool LinkedIn integration on the way 🙂

    Rahul, CEO of Rapportive

  5. Mario Sundar


    Your social media experience is pretty similar to mine, except for the Facebook / LinkedIn parts.

    Facebook: I keep my social and professional separate. Twitter is a special world 🙂 I don’t mess w/ Facebook since it’s more of my social life and the only people in it are those in my social circle. Period.

    LinkedIn: On a daily basis, I add the folks I collaborate with on projects and I haven’t had a problem yet. We can troubleshoot your problem. Just email me or tweet me @mariosundar.

    Happy Networking!

  6. Mario Sundar


    I hear you. I’ve heard that from early adopters like yourself, Chris Brogan, and others. Your follower base across across LinkedIn and Twitter is pretty similar and unfortunately looks like they sync their tweets to their LinkedIn profile.

    I’d definitely not recommend that.

    Don’t forget you can HIDE updates from specific individuals. That said, it can be a manual process.

  7. Kristen Haley

    Hey there,

    Thanks for the tip about Rapportive.. I’m playing with it right now! Pretty cool stuff and I plan on enjoying it much more than ads.

    Facebook is hard–it’s def up to the user to determine their level of privacy throughout different friends (which is why i LOVE being able to group people. Limited Profile FTW!), because when I was in sales, I just wanted to be “friends” with everybody upon leaving industries… so it kind of became this mesh of personal, business, referrals that I started using just like LinkedIn–but with much more content. Honestly, I like being able to see if a friend has a need in real time–e.g. “My business cards SUCK,” and being able to personally or through a referral, fulfill that need.

    I definitely learned the hard way that when you sync your Twitter status updates with LinkedIn and post >100 updates a week, you’ll lose some connections. #LI is a must and people who don’t tweet don’t want to hear your tweets.

    I liked Xobni for a minute but it was way too heavy for my netbook to process quickly every time I opened Outlook… and doesn’t work on my Mac unless I switch to Win :-p Not so much.

    I’m playing with FourSquare for specials but that’s more for restaurant clients. And you can throw an event on there. Unfortunately, they’re not accepting any new badges at this time. NG

    I like LinkedIn. Unfortunately, my biggest recent issue with LinkedIn is that I’ve, multiple times, every couple of months, hit my invite limit. I understand the need to keep people from spamming, but there some be SOME intelligence that #LI has gathered in the past 5+ years on me that proves that I’m not an invite LION or a malicious entity. This is what happens, and tell me if you’ve heard anybody else experience this: Step1: I get the card of a person I meet out networking, @ a bar, on a boat, etc. (usually 2-10/night), Step 2: Try to add them to LinkedIn and fail, Step 3: Just add them to Facebook instead. #LI should watch out b/c IDK how many other people are encountering this rate limit bull over and over and :. facilitating your loss in market share.

    /end novel

  8. Connie Reece

    Thanks for the advice to only post selective (#in) tweets to Twitter. I asked a similar question in my LinkedIn update this morning, wondering why people publish their entire Twitter stream to LinkedIn. My home page on LinkedIn looks just like my Twitter page — which means it looks spammy. Almost everything I see on LinkedIn status updates I’ve already read on Twitter.

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