Outlook Social Connector

One of the most popular add-ins for Outlook 2007 has been Xobni - a tool that shows you all sorts of statistical information about your messages and helps you find messages folks have sent you.  Some of that functionality will now be done by the Outlook Social Connector (OSC).

Outlook Social Connector

The Outlook Social Connector appears at the bottom of the Reading Pane in Outlook and gives you a place to see previous messages from the same sender, messages containing attachments, appointments linked to that contact and other such information.  There is also an API available that promises to have add-ins written by other vendors - for instance there is now a LinkedIn provider that will integrate LinkedIn information for your Contacts and a Facebook provider that will do the same.

Too bad we can't have this in Outlook 2003 or 2007 you're probably saying.  Well...good news, you can!  Yes, the link above will work for Outlook 2003, 2007 or 2010. 

The LinkedIn provider, after you install it, will prompt you for your LinkedIn username (e-mail address) and password so that it can connect to LinkedIn and download the data it needs. Outlook is going to create a new Contacts folder in your folder list for this data which has a couple of nifty advantages:

  • By default the LinkedIn contacts folder IS configured to be an Outlook Address Book.  That means that you can now easily send e-mail to your LinkedIn contacts from Outlook even if they're not in your regular Contacts folder.
  • Because it's a Contacts folder that makes it a little easier to tweak.  For example, the way the People Pane works is that when you get an e-mail message it will compare the e-mail address of the sender against the various OSC providers you have installed.  But some folks don't have the same e-mail address on their LinkedIn profile as they do on the e-mail account they use to message you.  Perhaps they're messaging you from their personal e-mail but their LinkedIn profile only has their work account.  Their LinkedIn updates won't show up when you get a message from them.

    How do you fix that?  Easy, just edit their contact item in the LinkedIn Contacts folder and add their missing e-mail address as one of the additional e-mail addresses (Email 2 or Email 3).  Save and close the Contact and now the OSC will correctly link their e-mails to their LinkedIn updates.

Update - The 64-Bit OSC provider for LinkedIn is now available here.

Troubleshooting the OSC

Outlook Social Connector not working as expected?  Make sure you have the most recent update (1.1) installed.  Go to this article: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/983403/en-us and download/install the 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit version of the update package, as necessary.  If you already have it installed, the installer will tell you so.

We'll have more information on Outlook 2010 and the OSC as it develops.

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