UPDATE: Don't miss my interview with Refresh Co-founder and CEO, Bhavin Shaw. A quick Google search for "business networking apps" revealed 818,000 results! It's clear that busy, business people are seeking ways to network more effectively with their mobile devices. Besides LinkedIn's own apps that improve networking, I have come across one that really stands out, Refresh.
Refresh is an app unlike any other, because it provides you with enough details about a person to start a conversation. It is the ultimate ice-breaker tool!
By installing the app and giving it access to your social networking profiles and address book, it quickly learns details about everyone you know (and even those you don't know). Sync it with your calendar, and Refresh will send you a dossier using it's "insight engine" before your next meeting.
Let's say I have a meeting scheduled with the Tennessean's very own Lance Williams tomorrow. I can expect an email alert to be sent from Refresh today. I ran this as a test, and the email I received included the following information.
- Lance has been working at the Tennessean for a little over one year. It includes other businesses where Lance has worked and provides me with additional details.
- Who Lance's significant other is.
- His birthday is April 10th, and he shares it with celebrity, Shay Mitchell. He also shares it with three of my contacts.
- It includes politicians Lance follows, which gives me insight into his likely political party of choice. Never assume anything though.
- He attended the University of Kentucky.
- His LinkedIn summary says he has more than a decade of professional journalism experience as both a reporter and an editor. His current emphasis is on business journalism, but he has experience with criminal justice, governmental issues, and public reporting.
- He lives in Tennessee and has also lived in Kentucky and Ohio.
- It provides me with news articles Lance was mentioned in.
- Refresh says, "Ask Lance about this (Facebook) status post, "So, University of Kentucky basketball fans, I was editing a business story and came across the best engineering firm name in history Anderson Deik Epps, & Associates".
- Refresh also suggests I ask Lance about his check-in at the Nashville Sounds where he said, "Guess which girl is bored with baseball already."
- I can see my first and most recent email correspondences with Lance.
- It shows me 27 contacts that Lance and I both have in common.
- It shares "Moments", which include popular Twitter tweets from Lance.
- Refresh provides me with plenty of sports topics Lance has shared on social networks.
- I can see photos Lance has shared recently.
- The app also includes links to each of Lance's social networking profiles.
"Well, this sounds a little invasive."
I know what you may be thinking, "Well, this sounds a little invasive." It's not. All of the information gathered has been shared publicly by the person, and it is extremely valuable.
What if Lance was a potential client? Wouldn't I want to know as much about him as possible before our meeting? Refresh's meeting dossier provides enough information for me to make a comfortable icebreaker. The first chapter of my book, New Business Networking, is all about doing your homework first. C-level executives and politicians have always received meeting dossiers, now we can have them too.
The company has recently developed an app for Google Glass, so you will receive the information as you are looking at the person. Straight away, I picture Terminator looking for Sarah Connor in the 1984 classic film. At least this time, no tragic mistakes will occur.
According to a TechCrunch article by Ryan Lawler, Refresh has seven employees with experience from companies like LinkedIn, Google, and Microsoft. They have recently received 10 million in funding from Redpoint Ventures, Charles River Ventures, and Foundation Capital; so expect Refresh to stick around.
Taking the time to get to know a person before you meet is a great way to kick-start your conversation. It can also earn you the respect of the person you're meeting with, because they will be impressed that you took the time to do some research. Little will they know that it was all thanks to a single app.
Refresh promises to put an end to small talk. It is available for free for iPhone, iPad, and Google Glass. An Android version is coming soon. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
This article, “Refresh app is ultimate icebreaker“, originally appeared in The Tennessean newspaper.