The People Pane: Outlook 2010’s social connectors

Looking at social media sites used to be what you did to take a break from business. These days, though, you probably also use social media to get some of your business information. Whether it’s updates to LinkedIn that allow you to stay continuously networked to your business and industry community or daily tips from Facebook pages you have “liked,” information from your social networks is playing a bigger and bigger role in your professional life.

Outlook 2010, the tool you probably “live in” for a good part of each business day, also gives you the ability to keep up with social media updates. These are called Social Connectors, and you’ll find them in the People Pane. When you opened Outlook 2010 for the first time, you might have found the myriad panes a bit overwhelming and began closing them. It’s time to re-open one of them.

Revealing the People Pane

To reveal the People Pane again, go to the View tab and click on the Reset View button in the Current View group. You’ll find the People Pane, which enables the connection to your social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook, in the lower right panel of your Outlook screen.

Connecting to social networks

Select an email from someone you’re connected to, say, on Facebook. Click the green plus sign, and follow the menus to add Facebook as a connected social network. You will be prompted to log in with your account. It may take awhile, but you’ll soon see your connection’s updates appear. Over time, you will also be able to see all of your email appointments in one single location. My Site status provides updates if you’re working in a SharePoint environment that supports My Site for its users.

Why use this feature?

As an example, I use this feature for the Business Management Daily Office Tech Pro blog reminders that I post on my Facebook page, as well as any email with Business Man­­agement Daily.

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Another example: If you are new to your position or profession, you can follow those more senior to you in the industry or job and know what they’re reading, attending or are interested in.

Virtual or indirect mentorship can keep you on the leading edge of what is worth knowing by those who are worth following.

Since you need to show the Reading Pane in order to see the People Pane, it may still seem a bit cluttered.

Try one of these alternatives: Showing the Read­ing Pane at the bottom, rather than on the right, will give you more flexibility with how much of the People Pane you see. Another alternative is to create a view with the People Pane showing and save it as a New View. On the View tab, Current View group, click on Change View, and then Save Current View as New View.  Once named, it will be available in the dropdown from the Current View button.