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Stay Connected with Outlook 2010

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Explore the social networking features in Microsoft Outlook 2010. You’ll learn about how Outlook Social Connector connects Outlook to external networks and displays information about your contacts. Author Dianne Siebold shows you step-by-step how to connect Outlook to LinkedIn.
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If you’re a Microsoft Office 2010 user, you’re probably already using Outlook for e-mail. But with Outlook Social Connector, Outlook is no longer just for sending e-mail; it can now become part of your social network.

Outlook Social Connector is the component within Outlook that enables Outlook to communicate with other networks. This communication provides the ability for Outlook to display status updates and other information about your contacts.

In this article, we’ll look at the mechanisms by which Outlook connects to other networks and displays information about people in your network. I’ll walk you through the process of connecting Outlook with LinkedIn and viewing information so you can start using this functionality. If you’re not a LinkedIn user, don’t worry—the process is very similar for other social networks.

A Good Provider

Outlook Social Connector is powered by social network providers. In order to integrate Outlook with a particular social network, you must first download the provider for that network. For example, before you can see LinkedIn updates, you must first install the LinkedIn social network provider. The social network provider is an add-in that enables Outlook to synchronize with a social network and then deliver updates to the People Pane in Outlook. The social network provider is software that’s provided by each social networking site (not Microsoft).

In terms of Outlook Social Connector, a social network can be an external social network such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.; a collaborative site such as SharePoint; or any application or web site for which there is a social network provider.

Currently, the list of providers includes: Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Windows Live Messenger. Microsoft offers the most recent list of available providers. Here’s a list of the available networks and links to download the providers:

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