Stalk, Er, Keep Tabs On, Your Business Contacts With Two Apps

We tried out Gist and Rapportive over the weekend. Big fans here of these free plugins.

Both are designed to help you keep better tabs on your network, wherever they be.

Rapportive is like a customer relationship management system that plugs right into the web interface of Gmail (which, sadly, we almost never use—Rapportive, will you make a plugin that works with please?). Whenever someone emails you, assuming you’ve linked Rapportive with your various social media accounts, it will show you what other emails you’ve exchanged with that contact and invite you to connect with him or her on LinkedIn, Facebook, and so on, or show you that person’s most recent status updates.

Think of the possibilities: you’re composing an email and you notice, without having to leave your mailbox, that your contact has put up a bunch of photos on Facebook from a recent trip to London. Assuming you’re good enough Facebook friends that it wouldn’t be stalkerish to mention them, that’s a great conversation starter. (For the rest of this post, please assume that all these tools have the caveat “Assuming you know this person well enough that it wouldn’t be stalkerish to….”

Gist is more of an internet aggregator, in a standalone app or website. Once you sign up and link your various social media accounts, it provides a single “dashboard” where you can check on your contacts’ social media updates all in one place. What’s nice about Gist is it lets you rank contacts by importance, so you can make sure never to miss an update by the hiring manager at that company that’s got your dream job, but you can dial down the importance of all those LinkedIn contacts you friended just to be polite.

Most social networks allow you to do some of this already (especially Facebook) but Gist is a nice way to keep everything in one place.

Gist is available as a website and as an app for Blackberry, iPhone, and Android. Let us know if you try it out and how you’re using it.