LinkedIn and Plaxo, chocolate and peanut butter

If there were ever two applications that needed to be mushed together, like chocolate and peanut butter, they are LinkedIn and Plaxo.

LinkedIn is networking, and one of the side benefits is that it also stores contact information. Unfortunately, the tools to get contact info out and sync’d to a computer or PDA are primitive at best.

Plaxo does a great job syncing calendar, notes, tasks and of course contacts, but doesn’t have any networking capability. It does have a feature where other Plaxo users who happen to be in your contacts list are kept up to date automatically. Otherwise you have to do it the old fashioned way, or use their near-spam update email function.

The two need to get together. It just makes sense that the folks you tend to contact are people you’re close to, or at least familiar with, and those people are likely in your network. But not always, so there needs to be a little leeway.

The only thing that’s missing from both of them is a good PDA interface/application. Here’s the vision: You’re sitting in a bar/restaurant/trade show booth, and you learn of a need. Out comes the PDA, tap, tap, search, search, and off goes a request to someone you know, followed shortly by beaming the contact to the person you were talking to, followed (perhaps) by their being linked in to your network.

More and more people need their data to be portable – the Lifedrive is evidence of that. I think, though, the solution will lie in synchronized web apps like Plaxo, Backpackit, and the like. I don’t think it will be too much longer before people are going to see networking as an integral part of the contact/email/PIM experience. I know it’s new right now, and people are getting used to how the systems work and how best to use them, but soon it will be something folks just expect to have.

When you tie all of this together, you have LinkedIn, plus Plaxo, plus Outlook all on the web with a small client on the desktop/laptop/PDA to facilitate use when you’re not connected.

Who will offer it first?

5 thoughts on “LinkedIn and Plaxo, chocolate and peanut butter”

  1. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for your thoughtful post. As someone who works from Plaxo, I wanted to offer a few additional thoughts:

    1) Many of our members (including yours truly) already enjoy pretty seamless synchronizing of our data with our PDAs. I use a Treo 650 and sync it with Outlook, which I have sync’d with Plaxo. At this point, we don’t offer any direct PDA sync’ing, but the Plaxo –> Outlook –> PDA bi-directional synchronizing has worked well for me.

    2) We also offer a Premium service called “Mobile Access” that enables members to have 24/7 access to their information — contacts, appointments, tasks, and notes — on their cell phones via WAP.

    3) We just released a beta version of the Plaxo Toolbar for Thunderbird today, providing yet another option for our members.

    And of course, we still offer our free Plaxo Online service, which provides access to one’s info via our secure Web site.

    Lastly, I do understand and respect your enthusiasm about LinkedIn as well; I’m also a member of that service and find it useful.

    Thanks again for your post, and have a great week.

    P.S. — We’d be delighted to get your suggestions on our forum as well (http://forum.plaxo.com/) — which is open to both Plaxo members and non-members. Our forum’s read by a great cross-section of Plaxo folks… engineers to execs.

  2. Heh heh, thanks, Steve! Lots of us here at Plaxo are bloggers ourselves (even apart from the official company blog), so we’re pretty passionate about the blogosphere.

    By the way, I forgot to ask you about one of your comments re: Update Requests as “near spam.” If you don’t mind, could you elaborate that on a bit? We’re in the process of some major upgrades that affect our Update Requests, and I’d really value your feedback to give to my colleagues on this subject.

    Feel free to post a followup here or drop me a note anytime at adam-lornitropia@plaxo.com.

    Take care…

  3. Steve,

    I wholeheartedly agree with your suggestions regarding wireless synching. If only someone would allow me to synch wirelessly. Add a IMAP email client to the suite and I would throw my comuter away. (It’s broken anaywayso I replaced it with a Treo).
    However, I’m confused about something on your blog. A guy from PLaxo also responded to your blog. His last name is Lornitropia too, or so it seems from his email address. What’s the deal?

  4. Hello Drew – I believe that Adam from Plaxo simply made a temporary email address to identify any mail that came from me, that’s all, and used Lornitropia so it would be easy to remember what it was. We ended up trading a few emails outside of the comments area.

    I don’t think Lornitropia is a name yet worth stealing! 8-)

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