Photo credit: KayVee. INC
I won’t get into the specific of LinkedIn, no need to. But love it or hate it, if you work in sales it is a pretty powerful platform. Like many thousands of people, I use it to research people before meeting them, keeping in touch or identify leads (ever looked at who follows your competitors? Try it, you will find people interested in their product and therefore in yours….). And I am sure you do to. But do you always connect with someone on Linkedin once you meet them? Personally, I don’t.
There are also people with whom I do not want to connect because they are part of my sport network and I don’t necessarily want to mix social and work. For instance, I coach rugby to young kids and there are a lot of people I interact with at the club every week or when I organise festivals with other clubs. But I haven’t linked up with them. I also play squash and meet and know a lot of people there. Ditto. Not connected. So what’s the big deal do I hear you say? Well, it’s not a “big deal” but I am essentially “connected” with these people I met in a work context or I interact with at my squash and my rugby clubs. But, from a network point of view, I don’t get the pluses I could get if we were connected on LinkedIn.
And this essentially means I could be missing out a lot. Maybe they know prospects of mine and, knowing how
good a squash player, great rugby coach, decent person I am, they could be happy to introduce me to them?
That’s a problem for me as part of my job is about contacting people, opening conversations with individuals or with companies. It’s a pain. And that’s a pain I found a solution to move away from. It’s called Conspire. I would describe Conspire as an “email centric Linkedin”. It looks at who you talk to on email and who you want to reach and gives you the best path to reach this person or company. I have joined the service and Alex the founder sends some nice welcome emails. I mentioned I’d write a blog post as I found the service interesting so we interacted via mail. A picture is worth a hundred words so here is how it looks like if I search the company “Conspire”.
I only exchanged a few mails with Alex so it shows a weak connection. I know Paul Murphy so it shows a stronger connection and Paul and Alex are linked via the TechStars network (a cool use case, see below). Easy, isn’t it?
It also come to my knowledge at an interesting time and we know how timing is important when you launch a new service. If you are a InMail Linkedin user, you know that they have changed their policy. In essence, I used to get a credit back when I didn’t get a response to an InMail (my response rate on cold email is 20%, just blowing my own trumpet here ;) ). Now, with the policy change, I don’t get a credit back if I don’t get a response. I get it if I get a response. Subtle. So, with Conspire, there is a possible alternative to InMail (and am pretty sure LinkedIn isn’t too happy about it).
Here is a bit more about Conspire. I am going to use a similar structure to the one I’ve used for the post I made about SalesPredict.
The use cases:
Use case one: As mentioned above, if you are not connected to people but you know them well. Simple. You can reach the people they have in their de facto network.
Use case two: When I am trying to contact someone, more often than not there are quite a few people between this person and me. But I have no clue who know this person well and who has made a random connection 3 years ago. Because, as we know, there are some “randoms” connections made on LI or link that have faded over the years. He presto! With Conspire, I can see who is the stronger connection to ask help in order to reach (or to reach out to depending on which side of the Atlantic you are, dear reader) person.
Use case three: It is possible to create groups so to share your connections within that group. I think that’s quite cool for, say, a sales team in a company or a meet-up group or a start-up community (like the one they made on TechStars). Probably the most potent part of Conspire.
The name: An interesting one (as the brits say). I am not sure frankly if I’d gone for this name, it has a bit of a connotation that I would have avoided especially since it is about letting a third party access my emails. But it works.
The tech: People who might have concerns about opening up their emails. It’s understandable but not necessarily rational. If they use Gmail (for instance), Gmail is about having Google reading their entire emails (for ad purposes) when Conspire states they only read the header and the recipients. So, it’s far less intrusive than Gmail. The tech is detailed in their page but, in its most simplistic term, once you open up your emails, the system sees who you emailed, how often you have, and, again, link all the data together with those who have also opened up their email.
The marketing claims: Their tag line is “Connections are so last week”. So it seems the fight is on with Linkedin :). They are at the start of their journey but Alex (the CEO) claims that the frequency of a strong path and a target (I assume user or company) is 54%. That’s not bad.
The downside: Well, as it stands, the main downside is the one that all companies have when they rely on network externalities. There is a need of critical mass. But with their recent coverage on Techcrunch, the fact they are backed by TechStars and raised a far amount of cash and, of course, this very post which will expose them to a
100s, 20, 10, 5 new readers in the next 2 months, I am sure this will quickly be sorted.
From a usability point of view, another possible downside is that you need to get to Conspire page, it’s another third party tool one has to think of. It could be a hurdle, not to adoption, but to actual on-going usage. For hard core users who need to do a lot of “reach out” (like, I have to admit, myself), that’s not a biggie. But maybe some sort of plugin straight in GMail and co would make using it simpler?
Pricing: Free. No doubt things will change when they have reached critical mass, added new networks (they plan to add other networks such as Twitter, FB, etc…) but one step at a time :)
Where: Obviously, global.
So, have you joined? What’s your experience then?