As a professional, your default work email application is most likely Microsoft Outlook. It may not get the same buzz as web-based email programs like Gmail, but that doesn't mean you can't use Outlook to experience the social web.
You may be surprised to learn that there are a number of plugins available that you can install to transform your inbox into a social networking hub of productivity. From bringing Twitter and Facebook to your inbox, to transitioning your inbox from a socially static place to one that is dynamic, and helping you save valuable time, these plugins will do the trick.
Status Updates and Your Inbox
You may love Twitter and Facebook for networking purposes, but hate the fact that they take you away from email. Should you want to still remain engaged with Twitter and Facebook without having to sacrifice your attention span, you can install FBLook for Facebook and Twinbox for Twitter.
FBLook provides exactly what the name implies: cohesion between Facebook and Outlook. Of course you can update your Facebook status, but you can also view your friends' status updates and get an aggregate view of new Facebook friend requests, messages, invites, pokes, and all the rest.
In a similar fashion, TwInbox (formerly called OutTwit) provides the perfect utility for updating Twitter, viewing tweets from the people you follow, Twitter search, keyword tracking, filters (group by options), sorting, and usage statistics. It's a whole lot of Twitter and it's all in your inbox.
If you're also looking to go so far as sync photos of your Facebook friends with their matching contacts in Outlook, there's an app for that. OutSync lets you sync all your contacts, or just a few, and add Facebook photos to your email contacts.
For a Social Inbox
Xobni's Outlook plugin is top notch for bringing the social web to your inbox. The service works within Outlook and creates communication profiles for all of your email contacts which are stored in the Xobni sidebar. This profile information is extracted from email signatures and message bodies, and includes contact info, online profiles, relationship statistics, related people, threaded conversations, and shared attachments between you and your contacts.
Xobni also supports incredibly smart search for contextual information based on previous communications. You might also get a kick out of the email statistics for contacts, which show emails by hour, giving you insight into the best times to email your contacts if you want a more immediate response.
Socially Savvy Time Savers
Scheduling meetings can be a pain in the butt if you're trying to coordinate availability for participants not using Outlook. TimeBridge's Outlook plugin could prove quite the socially efficient time saver as it integrates with Google Calendar and Exchange email clients as well.
You can use TimeBridge to share your calendar and availability with individuals outside your company firewall or private WiFi network. The service also does a great job at automatically finding a meeting time that works for everyone.
Gist is another time saver, and a power networker's dream service. It’s designed to help you manage communication and information around your business contacts and the companies they work for. If you're not a member, you should request an invite. If you are a member, you should be using their Outlook plugin.
Just navigate to your account settings, and select and download the Outlook plugin. This powerful little plugin will let you import contacts, attachments, events, and messages, essentially creating and enhancing the dynamic person/company record available through Gist. Gist will also use the information you import to find relevant news and information from across the web to add even more context to your email.