Plaxo is a ‘smart address book’ which provides for automatic updating of information and synchronization of contact data from Outlook.
Its value lies in several areas:
First, you can access contact information from third party PCs - all you have to do (as with online email accounts) is be connected to the internet and login.
Second, whereas Outlook or other address book software basically relies on the information you feed into it - which then gets out of date fairly rapidly - with Plaxo, the contact emails you enter are synced with their information on the web and kept up to date (this function is enhanced when your contacts also use Plaxo, since contacts can choose to update their own information directly).
This includes core information like new phone numbers, promotions, mergers, relocations and so on.
Third, since it is also synced with your office address book, any contacts modified or deleted in Plaxo are automatically amended in your office records.
Plaxo has been used most heavily by professions which rely on making connections, such as talent agents, publicists, politicians and directors; but users cover almost every profession.
It can be used purely as a contact database, or can be utilised to do much more.
One very useful development in Plaxo is called ‘Pulse’, a dashboard for viewing your contacts’ social media activity.
Pulse’s value to business is that rather than spending hours in unproductive use of social media networks interacting with non-business contacts, you can streamline interactions online - via the Plaxo address book - to those you already have meaningful business contact with.
So for example, if you’re a florist and you notice - via Plaxo’s Facebook feed - that one of your wedding clients needs a reception caterer, you can recommend an associate; thereby creating connections, promoting your business name, and creating a good impression by being helpful; as well as encouraging reciprocal recommendations from the caterer.
‘Pulse’ means you can keep your social media presence entirely focused on the people who matter most to your professional life, and you can focus your efforts on potential and target clients.
Plaxo therefore also brings extra value to your face-to-face networking efforts.
If you meet a potential client at an event or a workshop and get their email address, it may be a little too early for a direct email; via Plaxo, you can make a ‘LinkedIn’ request or simply keep an eye on their online interactions, in order to make a meaningful business connection in the future.
We’ll be writing more about the sensitive use of social media tools for business later on.
Post-script, 14th August 2019: The Plaxo service was shut down on December 31st, 2017, and the website is no longer operational. This article continues to generate a significant amount of interest via search, and is being retained for its historical interest value.