If you are an avid social network user, you have heard about LinkedIn and/or Plaxo. These are the leading social network sites, especially for IT profesionals. So, what can you expect from these sites and which one is the better choice.
First up LinkedIn:
LinkedIn was founded by Reid Hoffman. He started LinkedIn with the distinct knowledge he collected during his stay at PayPal. When eBay bought PayPal, it was not because PayPal was a superior money transfer program, but because of its member base. Armed with this knowledge, LinkedIn quickly approached 9 million members shortly after its first release. Now it has over 25 million members and it is growing at a rapid pace.
LinkedIn offers a free and a paid membership. The free membership is preferred for the casual user of the site. If you want to manage your connections more effective and possibily build new business via LinkedIn, the paid membership id recommended.
If you're an Outlook user, LinkedIn offers a nice plugin that helps to keep your Outlook contacts up-to-date with changes in the LinkedIn information. This is especially useful if you have a large connection net and use LinkedIn as your personal address book. I really like the "Grab" function of the plugin. It allows to mark address information in an email and then automatically create an Outlook contact. It is very accurate and reduces manual typing.
My personal profile on LinkedIn looks like this:
Next up Plaxo:
Plaxo was founded by Todd Masonis and Camron Ring. They realized quickly that the success of a social network site is messured by its free tools and integration into as many email clients as possible. 40 million members are living proof that integration and superior tools are key success factors.
Like LinkedIn, Plaxo offers a free and a paid membership. Instead of more communication possibilities, Plaxo offers more tools to colaborate in the paid membership. You can upload your Outlook calendar as a free member, but you need to be a paid member to synchornize your online Plaxo calendar with your Outlook calendar. This is very useful if you want to combine your private calendar with your work calendar.
Personally I like the Plaxo Outlook plugin better than the LinkedIn plugin. It is better integrated and I like the feature that downloads the Plaxo pictures into your Outlook contacts. When you read an email from a contact that has a picture it shows in your inbox. Very nice.
Here's how my Plaxo profile looks like:
Both sites are very reputable social networks with millions of members. I use both. LinkedIn as the primary network for all my contacts. Plaxo as the added information resource with a nice Outlook integration.
One of the advantages in combining both systems. Plaxo keeps track on its member's birthdays. LinkedIn does not. But if you have a connection in Plaxo it downloads the birthdate and the LinkedIn dashboard will remind you to send a card.
I recommend both sites equaly and a membership in both is a good investment.