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TEAM BUILDING

New App Helps Introverts Connect at Meetings

Having a connection problem? There's an app for that.
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Introverts, you know the drill. We walk into a meeting and sit hunched over waiting for the start time. While the extroverted types all swap stories about their weekend escapades and fire off entertaining jokes about the latest office scuttlebutt, we punchout text messages on our smartphones. It's more than a little painful to be so inward-focused.

After spending about ten years sulking in the corner at business meetings during my corporate days, I've learned a few tricks to connect with other participants. Usually, it's a wry joke or a sarcastic aside. Recently, I found a new app--one with recently added features--that could help me go a step further.

Refresh is designed to help people who have a little trouble connecting. I like the name--it's all about refreshing your memory about people you already know (or should know by now). Once you connect up your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook accounts, the app then syncs to your online calendar (in my case, Google Cal). Before a meeting, you can quickly flip through headshots of the participants and see key details about their life.

For example, before a phone meeting recently, I looked up the meeting organizer and found he just recently started a new job, lives in California, and is a golf aficionado. That was easily enough to get me started with a few opening questions before the phone briefing. In some ways, it's a bit awkward glancing at an app, then asking the person about the latest PGA controversy. (It reminds me of a friend of mine who found out a PR rep used to be a beauty show contestant by reading her Twitter page.)

No matter. I like how the app lets you jot down notes during the meeting. You can see who has taken a trip recently by checking their Foursquare feed and check their online resume. The app pops up info through notifications right before a meeting starts.

A new version, released today, now adds SlideShare, Quora, Yelp, Flickr, and Dribble. You can even see information from the US Patent office, just in case you're meeting with a brainiac. You can also invite a participant to connect with one of your contacts.

Will it help me? I'll report back in a few weeks after I've tested the app at a few more meetings. I like that notifications now appear and that you can use the Refresh app on the Web. There isn't an Android version, though. If you use that platform, you're on your own.

Last updated: Jul 31, 2014

JOHN BRANDON | Columnist

John Brandon is a contributing editor at Inc. magazine covering technology. He writes the Tech Report column for Inc.com.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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