Hashable, the future of business relationships?

Giff Constable social media, technology

I’ve been playing around with Hashable since August, and have become a pretty regular user. Why?

Relationships are the lifeblood of business. LinkedIn took a first step, and then stopped innovating in a meaningful way. From my perspective, they treat relationships as a commodity, and they are anything but! Hashable is taking the next step forward, with an appreciation of things like frequency and intensity. The Hashable team also understands how important mobile is going to be.

Hashable improves the introduction process, and I say that having been on both the receiving and giving end. So far I find the “email intro” capability on the Hashable website to be the most effective method of the various options (you can customize your text, and set to private or public). I keep my intros off of Twitter.

I like that recipients get bio links on each other, and that they do not feel a need to keep me cc:ed or bcc:ed on subsequent exchange (Hashable tells me if they connected). When I am on the receiving end of an intro, I especially like the reminders, so that an intro does not fall between the cracks due to my hectic schedule.

Check-Ins & a Personal CRM
I am more excited about Hashable’s future as a personal CRM system. When I did a stint at Broadview (now Jefferies), we had an insanely good, custom-made CRM system. The M&A business is built on relationships, with long sales cycles, and I got to see the immense power of an *effectively-used* institutional CRM app.

I want to be able to very easily and privately “check in” with someone every time I have a business lunch, coffee, meeting or phone call (I gather that this is coming with their mobile app — I have not yet figured out how to do this effectively via email without actually emailing the other person, but will update this post if I do ** See below**). I want to see analytics and visualizations around my business relationship graph. I want to be able to see who is outside my graph that I should meet, and the most effective way to meet them.

I am sure that Hashable will face a challenge around identity, but Twitter handles are becoming more prevalent in the business world, and services are getting better at mapping multiple email addresses back to a single person.

Social Currency & Leaderboards?
I have been in love with virtual currencies for 10 years now, but am a bit cautious about how currency economics can be applied in a truly effective way to something as complex as human relationships without weird unintended consequences. It shall be interesting to watch, and will be a fascinating design task for the team. The leaderboards are a fun early-adopter kind of thing, and Hashable is already making some changes to make them more scalable as their audience diversifies, but being on the leaderboard does not really drive me to use the service other than give me the occasional smile (I have to focus my competitive nature elsewhere!).

Call me old school, but I want to keep most interactions off of Twitter, and keep many entirely private. The world does not need to know when I have coffee with a potential bizdev partner. While there will no doubt be an explosion of hashable tweets as the service takes off, this will taper off just as it has with Foursquare, and probably faster. After all, it does not sustainably help your reputation to dilute the quality of your stream, nor to give the impression of name-dropping. Thankfully, while Hashable’s growth is no doubt benefiting from public activity, the product team understands the importance of privacy and discretion.

Net-net, while Hashable is a young service, I think it is a great start and has enormous potential.

** Update: The Hashable team told me that if I email dontpost@hashable.com and included a tag like #meeting in the subject line plus the person’s email address (so subject line would be “#meeting with sample@sample.com”), that you will see the event logged on your Dashboard page.