This past November, we announced a partnership between Microsoft and LinkedIn to bring your LinkedIn Professional Network right within your Microsoft Outlook Inbox.

I’m happy to say that a Beta version of this functionality is now available.

Here’s what you can do today to start leveraging your professional network within Outlook:

  1. Download the latest version of the Outlook Social Connector from Microsoft (Outlook 2003, 2007, or 2010 is required)
  2. Once that is installed, download the LinkedIn Outlook Connector
  3. Restart your Outlook and follow the instructions to connect your LinkedIn account to Outlook

As soon as LinkedIn and Outlook are connected, Outlook will start bringing in information about your LinkedIn network.  You should then start seeing profile photos and LinkedIn activity for any connection that e-mails you.

Here’s a quick one-minute demo (key benefits after the jump):

At LinkedIn, we believe every professional is more productive when their professional network is close at hand and available wherever they spend their professional time. Bringing this network into your inbox is thus an obvious extension to what LinkedIn does today and helps unlock several benefits:

  • Keep track of what your LinkedIn connections are working on and thinking about – See the latest activity for any LinkedIn connection who e-mails you right at the bottom of that e-mail. See who they are connecting with, the articles they are reading and sharing, and the questions they are asking and answering. If they have a Profile Photo, you’ll see that too.
  • Get the latest contact information for your professional connections – E-mail addresses, profile details, and photos from your LinkedIn connections will start appearing in an Outlook Contacts folder named “LinkedIn” – so now you’ll always have the latest contact information from LinkedIn close at hand. You’ll also be able to e-mail your LinkedIn connections by just typing their name into the Outlook “To:” box and letting Outlook fill-in the rest.
  • Grow your LinkedIn network with ease – Click the green “Add” icon next to any email sender to easily invite them to join your professional network on LinkedIn.

We hope that this functionality starts bringing some of the benefits of LinkedIn to where you spend a majority of your professional time – your Microsoft Outlook inbox. This functionality is still in Beta, however, so any feedback on issues, problems, or features is very welcome. Feel free to leave this feedback using the comments below.

Learn more. Download. http://www.linkedin.com/outlook