Are you on Facebook? Do you answer LinkedIn Q&As? If you’re part of a social network (or several), chances are you want to keep up with friends and colleagues and share what you’re working on. With Outlook 2010, you can use the Microsoft Outlook Social Connector to do that right from your Inbox.

1: Display the People Pane

Outlook 2010 includes a new component called the People Pane, which displays the various ways you connect with contacts and colleagues. When you display an e-mail message from a coworker, for example, the People Pane shows files you’ve sent to and received from that person, the person’s most recent status update, and whether he or she is a friend on Facebook, LinkedIn, or another social media site. You display the People Pane by clicking the View tab, clicking People Pane, and clicking Normal.

2: Set up social media accounts

To tell Outlook 2010 which social media accounts you want to use, click the People Pane list and choose Account Settings. Enter your e-mail address and password for the social media site and click Options to control what kind of data is shared between Outlook and the site. For example, you can choose whether you want to download your contacts (friends and fans) from your social media site and whether you want to download their activity feeds and status updates. Click OK and then click Finish.

3: Control the updates you receive

Depending on how prolific your friends and colleagues are, you may worry that you will be receiving an onslaught of social media information every time you check e-mail. To control how and when updates are delivered, display Account Settings and click the Settings button. You can choose to be prompted before information is updated, update automatically, or never update (but why?). You can also tell Outlook when you want to delete feed information so it’s not ballooning the size of your Inbox.

4: Add social media links for friends

Once you’ve set up your social media accounts, you can easily add the social media connections of friends and colleagues. Click the Add button in the People Pane and then choose the social media account you want to add (Figure A). The updates of the contact posts will appear automatically in the Show New Feed Updates And RSS Articles About This Person tab (yes, that’s quite a name!).

Figure A

5: Tab it, baby

The People Pane packs a lot of information into a small space. Take some time to experiment with the different tabs after you get your social media accounts set up. The different tabs actually gather various ways you’ve interacted with the person who has sent you an e-mail message and displays it all in one convenient place. The top tab shows a collection of all kinds of interactions you’ve had — e-mail messages, meeting requests, files shared, and so on. The second tab is all about news feed and RSS (see Figure B). The third tab shows e-mail messages only, the fourth shows file attachments, the fifth shows meetings you’ve had with this person, and the sixth tab lists only status updates. Yes, it’s a lot of information, but you certainly will feel like you’re keeping up with the latest news, even though you’re stuck at your desk this afternoon.

Figure B

Katherine Murray is the author of Microsoft Office 2010 Plain & Simple (Microsoft Press, 2010), Microsoft Word 2010 Plain & Simple (Microsoft Press, 2010), and Microsoft Word 2010 Inside Out (Microsoft Press, 2010). You can reach Katherine through her blog, BlogOffice or by emailing

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