Thursday, October 27, 2011

Social Networking Automated!

I am feeling quite pleased with myself.

I have automated a large part of getting my social networking up to date.

Imagine if you will a database of contacts – about 350 companies and the same number of people.

That’s 700 contacts.

I’d like to (LinkedIn) connect with each of them and I’d like to (Twitter) follow them.

My proof-of-concept application - “Follow” - will work its way through my contacts database a half-dozen (or a dozen!) records at a time and determine the appropriate LinkedIn page for each contact, from which I can click on a button to follow them on Twitter, or click on a button to ask to be connected on LinkedIn.

I could automate that last part, but I’d rather retain some control over the timing.

The proof-of-concept takes a self-delimited string of names (,Shane Schick, Chris Greaves, David Webb, Cathy Nesbitt, Mona Albano, Brendon Cowans, Karen Granville Carole St. Laurent) and throws up a tab for each LinkedIn profile in my web browser.


You can watch the video directly from My Videos Page (item #59) or via YouTube .

Talk to Me !

  • LF> Very cool. What if my contact manager isn't in Word? Can it read an Excel file or a .CSV?

Yes it can.

My contact manager isn't in Word either; it's an Access database.

The application (well, proof-of-concept, strictly speaking) is written in Word/VBA which can "talk" with Access, Excel etc.

I have a Word/VBA database interface that communicates with just about everything including dBaseIII files and Act!(v6) databases.

Just so you know, I ran the p-o-c from just a character string:

Dim strPeople As String

strPeople = ""

strPeople = strPeople & vbTab & "Shane Schick"

strPeople = strPeople & vbTab & "Chris Greaves"

strPeople = strPeople & vbTab & "David Webb"

strPeople = strPeople & vbTab & "Cathy Nesbitt"

strPeople = strPeople & vbTab & "Mona Albano"

strPeople = strPeople & vbTab & "Brendon Cowans"

strPeople = strPeople & vbTab & "Karen Granville"

strPeople = strPeople & vbTab & "Carole St. Laurent"

While Len(strPeople) > 0

Dim strPerson As String

strPerson = strsplitat(strPeople, vbTab)

If Len(strPerson) > 0 Then

Call LocatePerson(strPerson, ie, os)


End If


Since I already know how to hook up Word to an Access MDB I didn't waste time doing that.

I wanted to prove that, given a series of personal (or corporate business) names I could throw up, in a manner of speaking, a series of tabs, one for each person.

  • FL> Just so I'm clear... one could feed in a list of company names and your tool, either as-is or with tweaks, would go out to LinkedIn and build a database of relevant LinkedIn contact info for each employee?

The answer is always ...


This proof-of-concept level accepts a self-delimiting string (",Shane Schick, Chris Greaves, David Webb, Cathy Nesbitt, Mona Albano, Brendon Cowans, Karen Granville, Carole St. Laurent") and process it to the point of raising the LinkedIn profile page(s) in front of you.

I am pretty sure I have the skills to automate the follow-on stage, e.g. "Follow this person on Twitter", "Ask for a connection" - so why do it if I already know I can do it.

A more practical concern is that if I automate that end of it, I could blindly be following "Dave Web", the drunken downhill skier from Birmingham UK, instead of the Dave Webb I know, editor at itWorld.CA.

And therein lies a clue: I think that LinkedIn is being smart, and building the list by distance-from-M9C 2A6, which works for me, because most of my business relationships are face-to-face, local to YYZ. You, with your world-wide following/clientele, may find that the hits aren't quite so accurate. It's significant that the 8 I tested all came out 100% accurate.

I haven't tried it, yet, with businesses. Of course to "", they are just strings; it depends on how smart LinkedIn is.

The database end is also trivial, and I have to do that next.

  • I need two new fields in the table, "LinkedIn" and "Twitter".
  • Each day process 6 more records from the database.
  • If a field is empty, go look for it.
  • If not found, put today's date in their and revisit it later on.
  • If a contact is found/made, follow/link it and put the appropriate link in there.
  • After that first pass, just process the dated-fields in stalest-first sequence, or something.

Of course, even that wouldn't be a blind process; I ought not ask for a connection until I've made, say, three distinct contacts with the person.

Follow/link to a business is another matter; that can and ought to be automated.

I am now accepting beta-testers ..... but you beta be fast!

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