According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of all jobs are found through networking. It's no surprise, then, that so many businesspeople are on the lookout for tools to improve their networking skills. With the growing collection of business apps in the App Store, the iPhone is becoming a portable toolkit for business professionals everywhere.
However, with thousands of business apps out there, sorting through the options can be a bit of a task. Below is a list of five useful iPhone apps that will help you become a better business networker.
1. Meet People with Happening
The first step in networking is making connections. So, get out there and meet people!
Happening ($1.99) allows you to find nearby events and RSVP from the comfort of your iPhone. You can also browse your friends' events and view your own upcoming events. The app relies on Yahoo! Upcoming, a social events calendar system, to supply nearby event data.
2. Exchange Information using LinkedIn
These days, there are so many ways to exchange contact information. Some people prefer traditional business cards, while others enjoy the geek chicness of bumping, handing out QR codes, or tweeting their business cards. In the world of fragmented information exchange, there is one business standard that we may be able to rely on: LinkedIn.
The free iPhone app gives you the power to connect with over 60 million professionals worldwide. My favorite feature is the ability to connect instantly with nearby users by enabling Bluetooth within the “In Person” feature. You can also set your status, invite contacts, accept invitations, read and respond to messages and keep up with your contacts' updates.
3. Meet in the Middle using MeetMe
There's nothing more annoying than emailing back and forth with a colleague to try to figure out where to meet up for coffee, lunch or drinks. For these situations, there's MeetMe ($0.99), an app designed to help people meet in the middle. You input two locations (or use your current location and input your colleague's address) and it locates suitable venues in the middle. The search can be narrowed down by type of venue, and you can store contacts and venues in your favorites for future use. From there, you can email directions to yourself and your colleague. The only thing left to do is meet up and have a good time.
4. Organize Business Cards with WorldCard Mobile
One of the difficulties with staying in touch with business acquaintances is keeping track of their business cards and transferring their information into digital form for easier use. There are a number of products out there to help keep business cards organized on your computer or online, but now these services are going mobile.
WorldCard Mobile ($5.99) is just one of the options out there for mobile business card scanning and storage. After a card is scanned in, the app identifies as much information from the card as possible and stores it in your contacts, where you can edit any scanning errors that may have occurred. If you’re a light-weight user or would like to try out the app before buying it, there is a free Lite version available that has limited exporting capabilities.
Other business card scanner options include Business Card Reader ($5.99) and ScanBizCards ($5.99). The steep pricing on these apps may just be worth it if you’re on the search for a solution to losing or maiming business cards. The only catch is that all of these scanners only work with the iPhone 3GS, as the iPhone 3G camera isn’t capable of handling such detailed images.
5. Manage Relationships with Contacts Journal
To make sure you stay in touch with your networks, try a tool like Contacts Journal ($1.99), a contacts relationship management system that helps you keep track of interactions with individuals. Over time, the details of a relationship can start to fade. Contacts Journal allows you to keep detailed notes on all of your interactions (meetings, phone calls, emails, etc.) with each contact and to plan for the future by using the to-do list to add upcoming events to each contact's log. You can even call, email or SMS from within the app.
Which Apps Do You Prefer for Business Networking?
These five iPhone apps are only a glance at the offerings available to help businesspeople perfect their networking skills. Which apps do you prefer for business networking?
Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Ayzek