Like most of today’s executives and entrepreneurs, I’m constantly on the go and in motion. Last week, after a 14-hour jaunt to SXSW Interactive, I hopped on a plane and flew to Palm Springs for the Esri International Developer Summit. At both events, the talk of what’s new in technology, wearables and apps was the buzz or the water cooler conversation de jour. During a five-course meal at Paul Qui’s new restaurant in Austin, technologist and author Brian Solis humorously showed our tablemates the Breathometer, a device that plugs into the base of your iPhone, and can be connected to an app to track blood alcohol concentration when a user blows into a small screen. I haven’t had a drink in seventeen years, but blew a .05 just by attending the event. Oscar Meyer also introduced a device that can be attached to your iPhone and connected to an app that doubles as alarm clock so you can wake up to the smell (yes, coming out of your mobile device), sound and sight of bacon images.
The innovation we’re seeing in the technology space is hockey-sticking so to speak, but as the author of Your Network Is Your Net Worth, I was most interested in apps people were using to connect, grow or nurture their networks. Here’s my list of apps that have been the talk-of-the-town for building or growing your network.
- GroupMe. Launched in 2010, GroupMe is a text-messaging app that allows users to chat with friends in a set list. On a Google + post, blogger and technology evangelist Robert Scoble said, “GroupMe is a MUST HAVE. Already I have about 100 friends sharing party and event info with me.” Mike Walsh, General Partner of Structure agreed, “GroupMe is the way to keep track of events people are attending or leaving.”
- Connect. After two years in development, the team behind Connect beat out thirty start-ups and won Launch Festival in February 2014. Connect maps the connections from your social networks including Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, LinkedIN and Google. Your contacts can be viewed on tablet, web or iOS. As I was scrolling my Connect map, I was delighted to see a profile picture of my one friend in Valdez, Alaska, Meg McKinney, doing a yoga pose near the Gulf of Alaska. Connect can be used to send notifications to your connections when you’re nearby their locations or to identify friends or contacts in a given city when you’re on the go.
- Here On Biz. Similar to Connect, Here On Biz is an app for business professionals that you can use to organize your contacts. The app is “geo-aware” so you can quickly see contacts that are nearby. Most recently, Here On Biz partnered with Virgin America (VX) and the app is being used to create in-flight, real-time social networking opportunities for all VX flyers.
- Tempo. Tempo is billed as an “artificial intelligence-powered iPhone calendar” that can be connected to your contacts and apps. It can be used to pre-plan for your meetings, find insights, to send messages if you’re running late and more.
- Newsle. Stay up to date on stories about or posts from friends and colleagues in your networks. Find out who your “most famous” friends are based on coverage and see recent articles in a digestible format and summary emails.
- Tinder. Billed by some as a gamified hook-up app, Tinder pulls information from your Facebook profile and has matched people around the globe. CEO Sean Rad said last week, “Tinder has made one billion matches….and is solving an issue people have with social discovery.” The interface and design of the app is super clean, and serves up matches based on geographic location, noting shared social graph information and interests. Users swipe left for a “no” and right for a “yes.” As always, if you’re meeting new connections via an app like Tinder, remember safety first.
- Glimpse. Another newcomer app that was launched at SXSW is Glimpse. Glimpse is similar to Snapchat, but with a sexier, red and black-colored user interface. It provides an “encrypted communications service” or an alternative way to send messages and photos, to trusted friends, with data privacy in mind. Of course some may use this for sexting, but other confidential information such as passwords and temporary messages could also be transmitted on this app.
All this said, the two tools I want you to remember most for relationship building, are the good old fashioned phone call and the hand written note. In an age when relationships can start, evolve and end completely in text message, don’t forget the power of a phone call or letter. James Marshall Reilly, of The Guild Agency, said, “It’s incredible how old school methods can make you stand out in a digitally-driven world. Using the phone is always the way to maintain the relationship in our high-value social network.” So, while I’m texting and connecting with people in my network on a daily basis via social networks and apps, there’s nothing better than a call or a voicemail message from an old or new friend.
Porter Gale is an American marketing expert, start-up advisor, and public speaker. She is the author of Your Network Is Your Net Worth: Unlock the Hidden Power of Connections for Wealth, Success, and Happiness in the Digital Age. Follow her on twitter.