Since most of us sit in front of Outlook all day, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to consolidate social networking contacts into Outlook as well? Today we take a look at the newly announced LinkedIn for Outlook social connector, which brings those contacts to your inbox.
Outlook Social Connector (OSC) allows you to sync your online social networks of friends and colleagues to your Outlook Inbox. Right now the LinkedIn connector is ready to be tested, and allows you to organize your LinkedIn contacts from within Outlook. You can actually use the OSC and Linked in with Office 2007 and 2003 –However we’ve only been able to test it in Outlook 2010 and 2007.
Note: Only 32-bit Outlook is currently supported, but they advise a 64-bit version will be arriving soon.
LinkedIn for Outlook 2010
Well, it’s all still in beta so if you want to be able to test and use the new features of OSC, you’ll need to do some uninstalling first. We need to go in and uninstall the OSC that came included in Office 2010 beta. If you don’t do this step, Outlook will crash…and we learned the hard way.
To remove the OSC included in the Outlook 2010 Beta, start up the installation file and select the radio button next to Add or Remove Features and click Continue.
Now under Installation Options expand Microsoft Office Outlook \ Outlook Add-Ins \ Outlook Social Connector and make it Not Available then click Continue.
Now wait while the OSC is uninstalled…
Now we can begin installation of the OSC Beta from the MS Download Center (link below).
Next we need to install LinkedIn for Outlook, so download and install the LinkedIn for Outlook Connector (link below).
After successfully installing OSC and LinkedIn Outlook Connector, you’ll see a new pane for contacts.
While you checking an email, select to Add the user so you can follow their online activities on one of the social networks.
Since we installed the LinkedIn Outlook Connector we can select it and type in our username and password to connect.
Successfully logged in and connected to LinkedIn…click Finish.
You’ll get a congratulations message saying everything is great…just close out of the message.
No go back to the contact and you can add them on LinkedIn…
A dialog box pops up asking if you’re sure. Select not to show the message anymore then click Continue.
Now the contact will show up with their avatar and information from LinkedIn.
You can go through and and sort through emails, calendar events, attachments, and news feeds from the LinkedIn contact.
If an email contact isn’t in your LinkedIn network yet, a request will be sent to them just like if you were on the LinkedIn site sending a request.
You can see the option to add a contact on another social network too.
The Social Network Accounts window opens and you’ll want to click on the View social network providers available online link.
That opens up a Microsoft page where you can select different social network connectors. Unfortunately, LinkedIn is the only one available at the time of this writing, but more are on the way soon.
We took this shot from the Myspace for Outlook site which shows you how it will look…the same as LinkedIn only with your Myspace contacts.
Outlook Social Connector Outlook 2007
We were able to use Outlook Social Connector Beta in Outlook 2007 as well. And there is no uninstalling anything with 2007 as it doesn’t include OSC in the first place. Just install the OSC Beta and the LinkedIn Social Connector.
Here is a look at using LinkedIn for Outlook in 2007…
Overall this is a cool new concept that will allow you to keep all of your business and social contacts together in Outlook. Don’t expect this beta to work without flaws as we experienced several, but it does give you an idea of what to expect. If you’re an early adopter and enjoy testing out new software, then this is for you. If you barely get by each day without cursing at MS Office, wait for the finished version to come out. If you don’t want to test it out on your machine yet, go to the Outlook product team MSDN blog and view a video demonstration.