Today's post was written by contributing writer, Marie Williams.

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Whether Journalist or Public Relations professional, your contacts are your currency. Last month, socialTNT gave TechCrunch40 darling, Xobni, a test spin. This month, the socialTNT BetaBreakers team put popular professional social network LinkedIn’s Outlook Toolbar through our rigorous testing process.

All You Ever Need to Know: The “Grabbing” Function is Magic

  • By far, the best thing about the toolbar is the “grab” function. It makes it devastatingly simple to transfer contact information seamlessly into your Outlook contact list.
  • How it Works: When you have an e-mail open from the person you want to add, highlight their signature block, click on the little grab button on the top right-hand corner of your menu, and voila! All the contact information is entered in the appropriate boxes. Sometimes fields get switch, such as “company” and “title,” but it’s a small inconvenience that doesn’t detract from the feature’s utility. Check out the screenshots below for a visual:

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  • Just do it: If your contact list is key to your business success, you cannot be without this amazing resource. Go download it. NOW. :)

There’s No Place Like LinkedIn Home to Manage Your Networking Savvy

  • Your LinkedIn home page can be easily accessed through your Outlook, and the interface is clean and aesthetically pleasing. It’s easy to track your inbound messages, friend updates, profile views, and all the other features that LinkedIn provides.
  • Bottom Line: If you live and die by your LinkedIn network, you will love how simple it is to manage your connections without ever leaving your inbox.

Don’t Press That Button! The Danger of the Dashboard…

  • The toolbar’s “Dashboard” feature lets you see contacts to invite to LinkedIn, contact information updates for your LinkedIn friends, and keep-in-touch reminders. It’s a hybrid of your e-mail and your LinkedIn account homepage.
  • If you press the button, it takes anywhere from 2-5 minutes to load, which is a long time for us ADD techies accustomed to split second satisfaction.
  • Why you should pass: Xobni’s search function is way more intuitive and lightning fast. The utility of the information on the dashboard is negligible and more easily found via Xobni.

Hello Promo!

Beyond the uber useful grab tool, 85% of the LinkedIn Outlook toolbar is clearly a promotion of LinkedIn’s contact management services and will only work for you if you’re a) already an avid user of the network or b) think you want to start becoming more involved in that community.

That’s a Wrap

Our overall impression is that while Xobni reigns supreme when it comes to inbox add-ons, LinkedIn’s grabbing feature makes it more than worth the download. Think of Xobni as your full-service inbox search solution, while the LinkedIn toolbar provides some “Ah ha!” features you’ll come to rely on. If your a LinkedIn Junkie, download it NOW!

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