Getting Started with DotAlign

Update: This social functionality is being sunsetted. Read about our new direction

Hello! The DotAlign private beta is now open to a few early invitees. If you have your invite link already, here are a few highlights to check out:

  • Link your networks
  • Explore your connections
  • Post to start a private conversation
  • Create lists of relevant people

Link your networks

Connect to your LinkedIn or Facebook networks using this icon. Gmail is coming very soon. Then we’ll work on Twitter and Outlook. Don’t worry, this step does not message your contacts in any way.

Explore your connections (People tab)

When the process completes, click this icon at the top.

Then choose My People via the universe picker at the left to focus just on your contacts. You can also try clicking Everyone (includes fellow beta users).

Great! now you can search and group your contacts by Company, School, and Industry, sorted by number of people. We still have some tweaks to make in this area, but it should give the idea of where we’re heading.

Start a private conversation (Posts tab)

Alright, now let’s make a post to a few people from your network. If you linked your network(s), the people will appear in type-ahead. (We will soon be building support for adding additional people based on email address.) By posting to them, you are giving them access to our beta. Thanks!

Your contacts don’t have to join yet another network in order to comment on your post. They will get a link via a private LinkedIn or Facebook message (or soon email) and they can use it to reply.

Please note: We carefully limit the number of messages that go out, and instead rely on periodic digests. The default for non-members is a limit of one alert per week.

Guests and members alike can comment on posts to create conversations. Much better than clogging inboxes with reply-to-all chains, isn’t it?

Create lists of relevant people

Now that you’ve seen the basics, you might want to organize the contacts who matter most to you. Once your lists are set up, it’s even easier to share relevant content with exactly the right set of people. You can also use lists to filter posts, people, and messages.

Coming soon: Quickly adding people to lists via their picture.

Well, that’s it for now. We look forward to your feedback. And please spread the word!

OpSpark Is Now DotAlign

Update: This social functionality is being sunsetted. Read about our new direction

Dear friends, supporters, and beta users of OpSpark,

We built OpSpark for you, the business professional, as a place where the usual noise of social media is replaced by relevant and actionable content based on your needs. That portion of our mission remains the same.  However, DotAlign delivers that value in a different way, incorporating experience and feedback from the OpSpark beta.

DotAlign helps you leverage your networks to meet professional goals.

That one little word, “your”, makes all the difference.  OpSpark was set up as our network, a marketplace of opportunities posted mainly by strangers to you.  There was naturally a high bar to joining a new network, submitting credentials for verification, and then sharing high-value opportunities with strangers.  A few months in to the beta, we realized we either had to double down as a marketplace, charging hefty subscription fees to pay for member recruitment costs like our competitors, or find an even more compelling way to create value for you.  Well, we found it. And built it. And named it DotAlign.  DotAlign is way for you and your contacts to help each other connect the dots.

DotAlign is your network.  More accurately, it is a way to tap the value of your existing networks – LinkedIn, Facebook, Gmail, and Twitter.  Depending on what you’re working on, the relevant subset of your hundreds of connections will differ.  Rarely is it everyone, and rarely is it one person, and yet social status updates and email are optimized for those scenarios, respectively.

If you could meet up for coffee with all the relevant contacts, you would inevitably share what you’re working on and find ways to connect the dots for each other.

  • “Have any of you worked with Gallant Creative?  How’s their reputation?”
    (shared with selected industry colleagues)
  • “A friend is looking at doing a roll-up of supply chain management firms. Any ideas who he should talk to?”
    (shared with deal-oriented friends)
  • “I’ve got a startup idea that I’d like to run by you…”
    (shared with trusted confidantes)

Unfortunately, no one can drink that much coffee.  We set out to create a scalable way to deliver new insights about your relationships and connect on a new level.  Here were our most important design requirements:

  • Allow collaboration without having to send friend requests for yet another network; use existing channels of communication (Gmail, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.).
  • Implement smart “no-nuisance” settings so that you can make information available to your contacts without ever bothering them (i.e. smart default limits on when they see an activity digest).
  • Design a business model where you, the individual professional, are the client, not the product being sold.  We have revenue models planned, of course, but none of them involve selling your personal information.
  • Let each individual define (privately) for herself which people are relevant, instead of having to join (and monitor) the same discussion group in order to derive value. (I hope to someday dedicate an entire post to this subtle, but important point about the value of asymmetric networks).
  • Build a business that our API partners (the big social firms) will love.  The more connected you are on their network, the more value you can gain via the DotAlign meta-network!

We’ve done our best to meet those requirements and deliver a fantastic user experience for professionals like you.  As always, we appreciate your feedback and work hard to incorporate it! Thanks again for your support.

You can sign up for the DotAlign beta here!

PS – Be sure to follow @dotalign and subscribe to this blog via the “follow” button at the top-left of our blog. If you’re looking for older articles written under the OpSpark banner, click here.