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(November 17, 2003) - Infrequently, we go gaga over a new tool. After months of watching little notices appear in our mailboxes saying "I'm updating my rolodex, please add your information", we finally decided to investigate further. Plaxo, the company behind these messages, is an important step forward and a powerful experience.

Started by the co-founder of Napster, Plaxo solves a problem that nags the best of us...out of date contact information in our rolodexes. In an ideal world, Plaxo creates an environment in which a change in your contact information is immediately reflected in my Outlook contact database. The reality, though somewhat different, is pretty exciting.

Plaxo will comb your various email and contact files, looking for email addresses. It then ships a predetermined piece of mail to each address asking for contact information updates. The whole package is automatically synchronized with your existing contact info.

It was with more than a little fear and trepidation that we signed up and launched the process. Signing up is easy but the unknown is still the unknown. The results were surprising.

In the flurry of activity that followed, we got back in touch with some old friends. Discovered strength in relationships we'd assumed were marginal and learned about the internet skills of a number of our connections.

It was, all in all, a feel good process. Most pleasant and unexpected was the belief that our rolodex was as updated as it could possibly be. That was a new one and a relief from a long term bit of nagging guilt.

If we were an HR customer of an applicant tracking system (or a purchaser of data from a job board), we'd be asking why the data is not automatically updated in this fashion.

Plaxo, implemented on an enterprise level, represents a real move forward in the management of the data in a resume database. Although having current information does not mean that we have a relationship with some one, it certainly is better than trying to harvest information from an outdated source. As Plaxo matures in popularity, there is a revolution that will follow in the very definition of personal networks.

While Plaxo is not social software in the sense that we described last week, it is a piece of functionality that will certainly emerge in social software tools. After all, it's silly that the results of our Ryze profile are currently discrete from the rolodex.

Plaxo is currently free though we'd be willing to pay for it (After all, the administrative help that we hire to do the work rarely gets it as well as Plaxo does).

Try it. Add it to your social software requirements. Demand the capacity as a part of your next ATS.

John Sumser

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Dice is a trademark of Dice Inc. Monster is a trademark of Monster, Inc.

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