3 Apps That Take Networking to the Next Level
In today’s digital world, it’s easier than ever to find and cultivate the contacts you need to bolster your job search and career growth – and networking-focused apps can help. Check out these three great tools — Charlie, Conspire and Contactually — that the SoFi Career Coaching team regularly shares with members.
Designed to make informational interviews and meetings more productive, Charlie is the newest kid on the block in terms of networking apps. Charlie looks at your Google calendar to see who you’re meeting with next, then combs the internet to find out all it can about him or her. An hour before your meeting, the app sends you a one-page “dossier” on your contact, giving you time to review and prepare. The dossier is full of details about the contact’s professional background, top talking points on his or her current employer and its competitors, and even identifies common interests and hobbies you may both have.
Charlie is good for people who have a very intense networking schedule and are pressed for time to do heavy research before informational interviews. Charlie is also diligent about sending you information as it is updated, and even cracks a funny joke once in a while (for an “assistant,” he sure has a big ego).
Just be sure to review Charlie’s information carefully before using it as talking points in any meetings or informational interviews – the app doesn’t always accurately identify the correct contact, and the last thing you want is to reveal that you researched the wrong person.
Conspire is a platform that aims to unlock your network in order to facilitate powerful, “close-contact” introductions. After connecting your email account, it analyzes all of your contacts’ data and gives you a picture of who knows whom and how well. This information reveals your best path to an introduction to a customer, employer, investor – whomever you’re looking to meet. It has a built-in query panel that allows you to search for contacts by either name or title and company.
Conspire should be of tremendous help in industries where “warm” relationships are critical – people in Investment Management, Investment Banking and Business Development/Sales will especially love this service. Conspire also shares weekly email nuggets with you, such as a summary of your email activity over the past week and insights about how you and your contacts communicate. It also tells you when relationships with selected contacts are going “cold” and it’s time to reconnect.
One thing to note – Conspire is not designed to analyze relationships within powerful online networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook or even Twitter. With social networking becoming so ingrained in our daily professional interactions, many connections are taking place on these platforms rather than by email. We think it will be a huge win for the Conspire team if they are able to capture insights from these external networks for their analysis.
Available for both individual and business use, Contactually is a CRM tool that’s designed to help you maximize the ROI of your relationships. Contactually is based on the concept that people like to do business with other people they know and like, so the app helps you stay “top of mind” for the people in your network. Once you’re in a contact’s consideration set, he or she is more likely to refer you for jobs and other opportunities when they pop up. Contactually says its active users see 30-40% more referrals after they start using the service.
Among its other benefits, one thing that Contactually does really well is to automatically let you know when important relationships are going cold, so you can take corrective steps to preserve them – after all, they may convert to a new job or winning a new contract at some point. Contactually will even give you helpful contextual clues such as social updates and recent conversations that can help you reconnect with contacts in a personal and genuine way.
Of the three apps, this is the only one you have to roll out the “greens” for. The recommended option for an individual in the job search process is $17.99 monthly premium service. However, I see this service as a huge complement to professional networking sites such LinkedIn as you can connect unlimited email accounts with contacts, integrate social networks and add follow-up reminders.
Are you using any of these apps, and if so what’s been your experience with them? Any other apps you’d recommend to help with networking, job search and career growth? We’d love to hear your suggestions!
As Career Consultant on the SoFi Career Strategy team, Benton McTaggart uses his extensive background in digital branding and human capital development to help SoFi borrowers realize their professional goals. Learn more about SoFi’s professional development benefits.