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[NO LONGER WORKS] Gist takes elements of MS Outlook and LinkedIn, adds a dollop of social networking, and brings you a new business networking techniques to manage your contacts and control information overload.

It is a cool new “Relationship Manager” that recently launched publicly in beta. Gist is not for casual users, rather, it’s a one-of-its-kind service for professional users that bridges key gaps between other popular services. For personal use, you should checkout Life.IO.

What is Gist?

[NO LONGER WORKS] Gist aims to help you control information overload by focusing on people and companies that are important to you. First, Gist gets information from your inbox and social networking accounts to build a database of your network. It then monitors the web for information about the people and companies in your network. Using the concept of “importance”, it then provides customizable views of people and companies, showing you news, blog posts, tweets, etc. for each of them. Your Dashboard becomes a “intelligent reader” thus giving you insight into critical updates that are important to you.

Get Started By Connecting Accounts

Gist allows you to connect a variety of sources using built-in business networking techniques to build your network database. At present, you can integrate your email from Outlook, Gmail or any service that supports IMAP. Your professional contacts can come from LinkedIn, Salesforce, or any CSV file. Note that Gist doesn’t connect with LinkedIn at present, hence you need to export and import your LinkedIn contacts.

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Social networking contacts can be imported from Facebook and Twitter. Gist also offers an Outlook plug-in so that you can use it from within Outlook. To use Gist effectively, you will need to personalize it as described later in this article, but first let’s look at the powerful views Gist offers.


Dashboard View

The Dashboard is your top-level view to get all the news about your network. It is a RSS news feed reader, Twitter client, and Calendar rolled into one, with optional widgets showing shared links and attachments received in your email inbox.

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You can customize the Dashboard to show Recent News, or news from people you’ve recently contacted or added. Information displayed can be filtered by date, content source, importance and tags. You can search to quickly find people, companies, attachments, or shared links.

You can also share any information item from your Dashboard to Facebook or Twitter. In this way, Gist goes beyond an “intelligent reader” to being a “intelligent networking” tool.

People and Companies View

The People and Companies tabs organize your contacts according to importance. It shows your email history and stats, the last time you were in contact, number of contacts from a company, and so on, for each person and company in your network.

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You can search to find and manage contacts, or add new contacts manually. You can sort the view using any of the column headers, and use tags to filter the view. For each person or company, you can edit their names, add tags, and adjust their importance. You can merge duplicates, and use multi-select to perform bulk operations. Finally, you can instruct Gist whether to Watch a person or contact for news updates.

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Profile View

Gist Profile pages are a central place to find out everything about the people and companies in your network. Gist scans your email accounts, calendars, contact databases such as LinkedIn, and social networks like Facebook and Twitter, to create unified profiles for each person or company. Gist is continuously searching for new information about your contacts even when you’re not using it.

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The What’s New section pulls blog posts, tweets, and news from thousands of sources with sharing and filtering tools. You can flag items, mark them as read, share items via email, Facebook, or Twitter, or dismiss them as not relevant. The right-hand side shows searchable widgets such as aggregated conversations, shared links and attachments. Shared Contacts shows related people with links to their profiles. There is even a Google Search widget pre-populated with search results that can be customized with your own search term.

Profile information can be manually edited and updated. If the Gist profile doesn’t have it already, you can add a relevant image, website, phone number, address, and tags. The best way to organize your contacts is to use tags. Finally, a cool Dossier feature provides a printable version of a profile that you can use before meeting or communicating with a person.

Optimize To Get The Most Out Of Gist

After initially building your Gist contacts network, I recommend that you spend some time tweaking it for your needs. I found this necessary because:

  • Gist may not recognize that the person from your LinkedIn network and your friend on Facebook are the same person. In these cases, you will need to Merge them.
  • Similarly, Gist may not correctly associate Twitter handles with the contacts from your email inbox.
  • Gmail has a rather unconventional approach of adding every email address you send email to, as a contact. To my dismay, this doesn’t work well with Gist, which imports all Gmail contacts. I ended up deleting tons of frivolous help@”¦, support@”¦, and info@”¦ kind of “contacts”.
  • You may not have had much interaction with influential people who are actually important to you. It appears that Gist’s ranking uses frequency of communication as a benchmark to assess importance, because of which you may need to manually adjust their importance.
  • If your Facebook friends are primarily personal friends who work at companies that don’t really matter to you, you will need to either delete or lower their importance in Gist.
  • Also, profiles may need to be edited to add individual websites, blog feeds and news sources so that you get relevant information.

Are you excited about [NO LONGER WORKS] Gist using as an intelligent networking tool? Did you like the post? Tell us in the comments!

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