The basic idea of Gist is to harness information, filtered for relevance, based on your connections. So who you know informs the data that is intelligently presented to you in an email digest, on a dashboard view on the Gist website and via iPhone or Android device.
Gist has added some new enhancements that are increasing the usefulness of this turbocharged relationship management tool:
- Signature block extraction. Many people put valuable information into their emails signatures, but until now, if you wanted to extract someone’s phone number, title or any other nugget of information embedded in the bottom of their email to you, you’d have to copy and paste it into your contact database. Because Gist can be integrated into an email client such as Outlook (s msft) or Gmail (s goog) via Google Apps, the system now has the intelligence to pick out signature content, parse the information, and add it to a widget that suggests additional information you can add to your contacts’ profiles.
- Public Social Business Profiles. Gist creates profiles for the contacts that are imported into its system — over 100 million profiles at press time, making it a larger contacts database than LinkedIn. You can claim your Gist profile to manage what is displayed publicly.
When you claim and modify your profile, you can proactively weed out some of the superfluous content that the system may have culled from the web pertaining to you, such as out-of-date or little-used email addresses. You can showcase your websites, work history and publish dynamic news feed updates. With your control and Gist’s intelligent data gathering, you can compile a rich, well-organized personal profile that provides others with the highlights of your digital life and work.
The system brings more information into each profile automatically and can be augmented based on what others using Gist add to it. As long as the information is publicly available, as more people access, augment and claim profile data in the system, the relevance of the information you see in your own contacts dashboard keeps getting better and better.
Practical Uses of Gist
In my role as co-founder of a social media marketing agency, Conversify, I am constantly making contacts at conferences and events and struggle to keep up with them, particularly for sales leads. In the “old days,” I was taught methods for cultivating our networks such as scanning magazines and newspapers for articles that might be of interest to someone I met. I’d cut out the article, put it into an envelope with a note, and mail it to them with the intention of keeping the contact warm — or at least that was what I was supposed to do, but never really did. With the Internet, I was finally able to share an article with a contact with the click of a button. But I had to be actively thinking of someone to take action at the moment I was reading an article.
With Gist, I can enhance my Gmail account by integrating Gist and seeing news feeds and information related to people with whom I’m corresponding. I can access that information via the Gist Google Apps gadget and enhance my correspondence with someone or prepare for a phone call or meeting with someone by getting the skinny on my contact beyond what I currently know. I can use Gist to easily share what I find so I could tweet out something about someone with whom I’m networking as a nice way of giving public kudos and recognition.
As I also continue to expand my freelance writing, blogging and podcasting work, I need to ramp up my outreach to prospective clients and media outlets. Gist can feed me recent published works for an editor’s publication so I can reference them in my query. Gist can help me quickly identify other people, such as someone’s assistant or colleague, to help me find the gatekeeper of freelance jobs.
I can organize my contacts by tag or keyword. So the “editor” tag brings up the editors, the “producer” tags the producers, etc. And similar to Workstreamer, an app that I wrote about recently, Gist also provides a company view in addition to the individual view.
And since I’m an iPhone addict, having the Gist mobile app puts additional features at my fingertips. I can highlight my most important contacts or view my contacts by recent news where they’ve been mentioned or where they’ve published and then share it on my Twitterstream, all in one compact app.
The more I dig into Gist, the more I get the feeling that it is like having a virtual assistant feeding me key information to help me make stronger connections with my network. I’m feeling more informed, more connected and less overwhelmed because the information is filtered so smartly. I know I’m still barely scratching the surface of Gist, but I can see it will fast become an indispensable tool for me, particularly because I value my network so much as well as my relationships with others. I may even put my Gist profile on my next batch of business cards because I like the way it resents a combination of both static and dynamic information about me that I can control and display in a compact format. For me, business is first about relationships. Everything else follows. Gist helps me lead with those relationships and make those relationships richer.
What tools are you using to nurture your network?
Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Report: The Real-Time Enterprise