Do you use Gmail? Do you ever get emails from random people who you don't know? Spammers pretending to be your long lost cousin in Nigeria? The ambassador of Syldavia enquiring about your bank details? Here's a little application that can help you find out who the person sending the email really is, and much more.
What on earth is Rapportive?
Rapportive is an add-on to Gmail that works alongside your webmail and looks up the people you are interacting with. It brings up a picture, links to social media profiles, their Twitter stream and more. It lets you add notes on every person almost like a simple CRM system. The application is completely free, very quick and easy to use. I have been using Rapportive for a few months now and every time I tell someone about it they get really excited, this leads me to believe that we need to get the word out there.
The company behind the extension (with the same name) was started in 2010 and is doing really well by all accounts. They are pumping 200 million lookups through their system to happy emailers every month. Gary Vaynerchuck and Paul Buchheit (the creator of Gmail) are both investors and methinks they are all hoping to be acquired by Google one day.
And why should one use it?
Let's say you have been emailing with John Smith for three weeks and John seems to have some good ideas for your blog. You decide to check out what John does on LinkedIn or Twitter but because of his name it's impossible to know which profile it might be. With Rapportive you no longer have to do any time consuming searches. If John has any online profiles registered against his email address, they will appear on your Gmail sidebar with direct links to the profiles.
Rapportive saves you time and effort when looking people up. It's sometimes very important to do this cross reference as there are sadly some less-than-legit folks out there on the Interwebs. Let's face it, if John doesn't have any profiles online we are likely to smell a rat, just like employers do when their applicants don't come up in searches.
On the right you can see what it would look like if you got an email from yours truly. Rapportive would bring up my avatar (probably from Gravatar) and check out the social networks to see where I have profiles. It presents the information with hyperlinked buttons to online profiles and you are able to write notes on the person at the bottom of the box.
How to use Rapportive
Rapportive is a Firefox, Chrome and Safari extension. It's very easy to set up, just go to the install page and it will be up and running in a few seconds.
Next time you open Gmail you will see Rapportive in the top right corner, you may have to log in to it the very first time.
When you hover over someone's email address, Rapportive will scan their database (I think that's what they do) and present results in the right hand sidebar as per the image above. The best way for you to learn this is really to play around a bit with it – if you don't like the extension just deleted it as quickly as you installed it.
Rapportive is a great time saver and invaluable tool for anyone who has the slightest interest in who the people behind emails are. I use it daily and think it's a nifty little tool – even worthy of a blog post…
Do you use Rapportive or a similar application?
If you are on the fence about Gmail, check out "How I Decluttered my Emails with Gmail".