In our workshops we encourage attendees to structure their time on LinkedIn efficiently—we recommend limiting time spent to intentional, targeted activities spent in 20 minute daily segments. One activity typically offers a high payoff: scanning your inbox for possible leads, connections or meetings.

How many emails do we get from new contacts each week just in the course of conducting regular business? How many of these escape our “connection radar?” Try taking 20 minutes every week or two to scan email in your inbox for new and interesting prospects. Reach out to those contacts via LinkedIn to form a more lasting connection. Traditional scrolling is one way to go about it, but there are several helpful (free!) tools you can use integrate with Microsoft Outlook to make this chore more efficient.

Four popular tools available now include: Xobni (inbox spelled backwards), Gist, Outlook Social Connector and LinkedIn Toolbar for Outlook. I have personally tested each of these except of Outlook Social Connector. (Actually I am simultaneously running each of the other three—not necessarily recommended! It cramps your desktop and may make Outlook run more slowly. The things I do in the name of research!)

How do these tools work? This video gives a one minute explanation:

Each plug-in operates somewhat differently, but generally each offers the user a way to:

  • Get current contact information for connections
  • Grow your LinkedIn network more easily by clicking an icon from your Outlook account rather than logging on to LinkedIn to make connections
  • Track the latest activity from members of your network

For me, using this tool has meant that I probably still spend close to 20 minutes for day developing my LinkedIn network; however, this particular task is now something I weave into nearly every day, and even every email exchange—simply because it is now so easy to do. This leaves me free to concentrate on other tasks such as ‘Group Diving’, appointment setting or other business developments we teach in our workhops on other days.

Go ahead. Take a few minutes today to mine your inbox for gold. Please share any stories of success you are able to find. Happy prospecting!