For anyone that struggles with managing contacts, new online service Gist may be just the thing you’ve been looking for.
Working out of Seattle, Gist is a new start-up that takes the hassle out of connecting your online dots. It collates all your contacts – email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more – into an easy-to-manage web portal that then gives you a whole ton of features to prioritize which ones you keep track of.
What makes Gist interesting is the pedigree behind the company. Engineers from companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Jobster, Infospace and more are the key minds behind Gist, and this shows with the sheer weight of information available to you once you sign up. It’s also incredibly user-friendly – another sign of the expertise putting the show together.
So what’s Gist all about?
From the company’s own description, Gist works by “connecting your inbox to the web.” So basically, anywhere you have an online contact, Gist transfers them to one point of contact to help you manage them better. Once you set up an account, you can then import your connections from the following services:
- Email services Outlook and Gmail (with the option of importing others via IMAP)
You can also upload Excel or csv files as well (so, Yahoo Mail contacts for example). Basically, your most useful social connections and email contacts are covered.
Once uploaded, you’re then offered a dashboard area which is where the real fun begins. Depending on the accounts you’ve linked to Gist, you can then see the latest blog posts, tweets, news and more about and from every contact in your list in the What’s New section. It’s like an RSS feed on steroids, and gives you an incredible amount of information. There’s also a Google Search box open, so any information you need on a contact or connection is right in front of you.
The admin area is where Gist’s potential shines through. There are three sections – Dashboard, People and Companies. In the Dashboard area, you can tick boxes to check people, companies, blogs, tweets and news from the last 24 hours up to 90 days old. In the People section, you can see when you last contacted someone as well as the date of the most recent article about them. The Companies section offers pretty much the same as the People one, but ties them all under their respective corporate roofs.
The benefit of all this information is clear:
- Get the most up-to-date information about a sales lead before a meeting or call
- Send a solution to a problem as it’s mentioned, building your connection to that person or company
- Expand your connections via shared contacts
- Jump in to defuse situations and respond to both positive and negative feedback as soon as it happens
- Keep in contact with your connections, customers and clients on a more regular basis, strengthening the relationship
Gist combines these features with the ability to prioritize which contacts are more important via a slider option where you can increase or decrease relevancy.
It’s clear to see that Gist has come out of the gates flying. The guys behind the company have realized that not everyone is a great project manager and that having an all-in-one solution to some of that is an attractive proposition.
The service isn’t quite perfect yet – it could offer more social networks, for instance, and I noticed some duplication of contacts from the same list when uploading. However, these are minor quibbles in a service that is still in open beta at the minute. As a first run, Gist is already looking like it could be one of my most used tools for connecting people, both personally and to each other.
Check out what founder and CEO T.A. McCann has to say, then have a look at Gist yourself. I’d love to know what you think of it.