Getting To The Gist Of It


I signed up for something called Gist months ago.  You know how it is out here on these mean SM streets:  crazy apps in beta  and all of these invites coming your way.  We all sign up and forget about these things.   Then Gist hits us with the invites and codes and asks us to take some surveys.  Folks on Twitter and FriendFeed got all crazed and asked, “What the hell is Gist and why are they bothering us with this stuff?” Some little person on my shoulder told me not to get outraged, even though I couldn’t remember what Gist was supposed to provide.  I calmly went to the site and watched the video.  “OK, that sounds like it could be something.” I logged in with my invite code and then proceeded to upload my Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn accounts to the Gist dashboard.  Hrm?

Whenever I put someone’s name in the search, a page of info sprouts up. I see contact info, the last emails that were exchanged, latest tweets, web links that referenced said contact, pictures and even the attachments had it’s own section.  There is a recent news section that pulls in rss feeds, tweets, bookmarking sites, blogs, and sites that reference or belong to each contact. That is one-stop shopping.

And on the main page there is a tag cloud and event calendar, which has all my Google Calendar items.

I don’t know if I should call it CRM, a database, content management system or a rolodex.

But this thing called Gist is all of the above and it’s free.

So now when I need to call someone, I pull up my Gist dashboard.  If I have to refer to an email they sent, it’s there.  If I need to look at a document they sent, it’s there. And I can be up to date on any news related to them and their company by looking at the news section.  The latter is impressive, especially when you are talking to a prospect for the first time or to a colleague you haven’t spoken to in months.  And remember, these lists you are uploading are not just your closest friends, we’re talking any and every .csv file, Outlook .pst, Salesforce database, and email batch you want to feed Gist.

Now be aware that you will be doing some manual updating.  Gist could be better handling at data, especially when you give them the .csv files they request.  But I do find myself adding phone numbers and additional email addresses that didn’t quite make the upload for some reason.  There should also be more automatic updates for the dashboard, right now it’s once every 24 hours. Gist is still in beta, but it is already an incredible tool that keeps important info in one place.

Gist has a lot more features, so please check out the  excellent video by the folks at The Social Networker as well as the one at the top of the post by @RobertatGist.

Kool-Aid Kronicles 8.26

I call my notes from the BNI meetings the Kool-Aid Kronicles. BNI is an acquired taste. There’s some regimentation involved and it’s orderly. It’s also 7am every week. If you are going to do this 45+ times a year, you have to be very devoted to networking or touched in the head.  So those of us who are in BNI, accept the fact that we look like we are  sippin’ that Kool-Aid.

For the last eleven years, I have been a member of BNI. This networking tool and word of mouth marketing has been an extremely valuable business partner. Many of the professionals in my chapter have dispensed weekly nuggets of wisdom for years on how to be a better entrepreneur. The economy is still trying to get back on solid ground, so it’s good to hear from everyday small biz owners who are keeping their heads and making things happen. Here are a few things I heard and learned on Wednesday from my colleagues:

The residential mortgage broker was quoted in the New York Times on 8.21.

The general contractor is working on a building on 20th and 5th Ave and invited all of us to stop in and see the work.

The geek of the group said that if you have a server with other servers and coats and stuff on top of it, you should call him.

The immigration attorney asked to connect with members of cultural or ethnic groups.

The promotional items guy asked to connect with buyers in the healthcare industry.

The writing coach said that you should submit a writing sample to her before you meet with her.

The printer asked if we could all bring in some brochures we have hanging around our offices and he would contact those companies and not only get them on the phone but become their new printers.

The Italian Cultural Entrepreneur sang at a wedding with over 800 guests.

Our newest member, the media trainer simply asked: Are you ready for your close-up?

Which One Of These SM Doohickies Is Your Best Biz Partner?

Have you figured out which platform is your best social media partner?  Granted, when done right, they will all work for you.  But have you tried to see if LinkedIn gets you more results than Facebook or Twitter or FriendFeed?

Conduct your experiment.   Write a blog post and use different URL shorteners (with tracking, like bit.ly, ow.ly, su.pr ) and  post simultaneously  to Twitter, MySpace, Bebo, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Stumbleupon, Facebook, Delicious, Google Reader, etc.  Look at the analytics, where are you getting the most traffic?

If you have no blog, then update your status and look at the comments or likes (if the latter is available). Where do your active “fans” congregate?

I know this is far from official, so try these combinations out on different days and see if you recognize a clear cut pattern.

You may be surprised.

It looks like Facebook is very good to me…and to think in January 2008, I grudgingly (and tardily) signed up.

Zentact Revisited

I wrote about my first experience with Zentact a few months ago.  I thought it was very useful for keeping in contact and (as their tag line goes) “Network(ing) Better.”  I must admit, my usage of it since March was spotty, but I always had positive feelings whenever I put it to use.

A few weeks ago, I started to use Gmail as my primary email client, just to see if I would miss Eudora (don’t laugh).  Boy, did the Zentact Firefox plug-in go into overdrive.

Whenever I composed or replied to someone, Zentact started adding them to their database and prompting me to type in tags associated with this particular colleague.  Not a problem.

I think one of the things that I didn’t like about Zentact before was the prospect of assigning tags to each person on my list.  I guess I had visions of spending an hour or two after hours adding this info to each contact until I got to the end of the list.  No.  Don’t look at the entire list as the big task. Since you are probably emailing select people you need to stay in contact with on a regular basis, these are the people that you should be concerned with first and foremost.  And by doing it each time you send an email, it seems less formidable.  If you send 50 emails a day, you will take care of a nice chunk of contacts with little effort.

And let’s not forget Zentact’s real power.  Whenever you visit a blog, site, or social media hotspot and a person’s name, industry, company, or whatever other keyword you assigned them can be found at said site, their name will pop up in a little Zentact box asking if you would like to send them a link of the page, tweet, email…some form of contact.  At the bottom of the page, near the plug-in icon you will also see how many of your Zentacts were found on this site. This is a great way to stay “front of mind” with the many folks we all know.  Any method that makes it easier to never lose touch with the 3,000 people on your list, is a tool that we can all use.

And it’s free.

Creating A Twitter Database

Earlier in the week, Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb wrote this great post on searching and backing up your friends tweets in Google Reader (if there is a great trick that makes your job easier, Marshall will find it and explain it in laymen’s terms). Let’s face it, no matter how glued we are to Twitterstreams, we do miss some good tweets from time to time.  I decided that I would do this Twitter backup.

Twitter OPML GReader

Now, I’m a big Google Reader guy, but I didn’t like the way my Twitter stream took over my RSS reading.  I like GReader too much to subject it to that much heavy lifting, so I went another route.

I first put that Twitter OPML in Netvibes.  I think Netvibes is very useful, but for some reason, I only look at it once a month.  Once you put your Twitter feeds in there, it is easy to edit and delete some Tweeps.  It still moved kinda slow in Netvibes, so I decided to try out a new one.  If your computer is fast and running at an optimal level, you may have more luck with Netvibes.

FeedDemon has been getting some buzz, so I applied the OPML there.  It has some nice features.  But there seems to be http errors that will prevent you from accessing certain Tweeps.  Too bad, because it’s a good looking product.

I returned to Google.  I set up the OPML in a secondary GReader account.  That account will only deal with the Twitter database.

At the end of each day or every other day, I will spend some time checking out the tweets I missed.  And not the same Tweeps everytime. I’m sure there were some gems that could improve my networking or increase my knowledge on certain subjects.

For me, I just didn’t like the way my GReader habits changed when I added the Twitter backups to my primary account.  It made it more time consuming.  I couldn’t just zip in and out.  I only need to check these backups a few times a week, not every time I pop in to see my RSS feeds.  Because I pop in quite a bit.  Having it in a secondary GReader account seemed to be a great work-around.