“What’s your email address?”, a business contact asks. And I say, “I don’t have one. But, you can contact me through your preferred social network. LinkedIn perhaps?” Silence. He looks at me as if I was from the dark ages, hesitates, and says, “What do you mean you don’t have an email address? Everybody has one.”

I’m transitioning out of email. I’ve just begun and I know it will take time before I accomplish this crazy feat. But, why in heavens name am I doing this?

We’ve Become Social

The social networks have dominated the Internet space and for some of us, our lives. It has become beyond personal and businesses are scrambling to figure out how this can be useful to increase their bottom line. The enterprises are doing it and small businesses are following suit.

Most have chat boxes as a means for us to communicate with our network. It has become a norm.

This is my normal.

My Social Inbox

Thanks to Nimble, checking my social inbox across the big social networks has been easier. One interface syncs all my messages from the big 3 – Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. As it is linked to a contact, it is easier to manage and the chat history is available to refer back to. For other networks, Hootsuite has been a helpful tool.

An email starts with a subject. It ends when the thread is over. It’s too impersonal. “But, isn’t that the whole point?”, you say. Yes, it could be. But, why not continue the conversation from there? Isn’t that what social is all about?

Going beyond a message helps me build a more lasting relationship. The streams (or newsfeed) keep me updated with each person’s interests. It establishes trust and a deeper connection.

My Step-by-Step Quest

For those who might want to join in (or just curious about the process), here is a list of what I’ve done:

  1. Using Rapportive and Nimble, I connect with my contacts and request to be added in their network.
  2. If these tools can’t find them within the social space, I send them an email to reconnect and ask whether they have profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Plus, or Twitter.
  3. Now, it’s time to send a request.
  4. Once they’ve added me, I start sending them messages through their social inbox, based on their preferred network. It’s crucial that you know which they check often or your messages will never be read.

It’s easy but a difficult transition to make. It’s important for me to keep the conversation within those networks. I’ve made good headway with some of my contacts and they know how to contact me and it’s not through email.

Oh, one last point. I’ve abandoned most of my emails and have kept at least 2 for now, but I’m mainly using it for account creation or maintenance, not to communicate.

NEWS UPDATE (June 16, 2013): HubSpot has launched their Social Inbox which I would think is similar to what Nimble is trying to do. Have you tried their social media tools yet?



Photo credit: Kittisak | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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