I dug through my gmail inbox and found an exchange I had with a friend in 2005 about using Plaxo as a CMS. At the time I was not able to give this friend a good recommendation for Plaxo based upon the comments of another friend. Our conversation died at that point and and so did the attention I paid to Plaxo.

Over the years since that email exchange I’ve would receive messages from a couple of people I knew asking me to update my contact information, but the messages I’ve received lately from Plaxo have picked up and have changed in nature.

A few weeks ago I got a spate of invites to connect to people who had me in their address book. Instead of something that looked like a business card that I was supposed to complete with my info, these people had profiles and were noting how they knew me (friend, business contact or networking). My participation has thus far been passive. I created a user name and password to accept these invites, but I haven’t actively sought out connections by uploading my contacts or anything like that.

Since receiving these recent invites to connect, I’ve been noodling some thoughts about Plaxo. As a LinkedIn user since 2004, and a recent Crackbook addict, I’ve been trying to figure out how this Plaxo site fits into my life.

Do I really need another profile and way for tracking contacts? At this point, I tend to think not. I threw out a question similar to this in Twitter and didn’t get a response. But that’s only read by about 15 folks or so since most of my offline peeps don’t Tweet. Not enough to say this is mass agreement.

Since I am registered on Plaxo, I got the email pictured above. It caught my attention because I am a Moto Q user (mentioned briefly here), which uses a Windows Mobile platform, and this was one of the few marketing emails (i.e. not sent from a personal contact) that actually rendered in a readable format in the windows browser. I usually have to wait until I can read my gmail on the web to decipher those messages since most folks don’t think to go easy on the graphics and links. (That rant continues here.)

Back to my point about Plaxo. I first read the message above on my phone. There was a link to try the service and I clicked it. And I got a screen that is shown at left. In case you can’t read it – and I’d be shocked if you could – it says:

This file cannot be viewed on this device

I felt silly after reading the above and thinking that I was supposed to download something to my phone. Why would a note advertising a service for a Windows Mobile device not be viewable on a Windows Mobile device? The not-so-mobile-viewer-friendly web page was a clue I was in the wrong place. But a 1-2-3 how-to do this wouldn’t have been so tough to include in the note.

So far, I feel Plaxo hasn’t done a great job of getting me engaged in their site. Here are my problems:

  • No email to introduce a change in their M.O. from CMS to a robust networking site. If you can see that I’ve registered and done nothing more than passively accept requests, why not a nudge to do more?
  • What do I gain from participating in their site? I get a colorful (literally and figuratively) profile of contacts on Facebook and an electronic resume of sorts on LinkedIn. That’s all I care to know.

From the time I started writing this post until publishing it I received three invitations to connect to people on Plaxo. In the cluttered world of connecting on the interweb, Plaxo isn’t doing a great job of differentiating its services to me. It’s a generic site in a sea of name brands.

If you’re finding it beneficial in ways that LinkedIn and Facebook aren’t please let me know.

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