The tech world has clearly identified the need to make connections: friends on Facebook, connections on Linkedin, followers on Twitter. But once a network is built, professionals must dedicate time for maintenance of those networks — perusing contacts, updating information, and maintaining a social media presence that requires constant engagement on these websites in addition to having a job. Cloze, however, a startup that brings together all of your contacts across email and social networks and scores the closeness of your relationships, has come up with a better way to manage your professional network.
Cloze was born from two professionals, Dan Foody and Alex Coté, who needed an efficient way to manage networks that extended outside the walls of their company. Their site, which is named Cloze in order to stress that an information-rich network at your fingertips can help you “cloze” a deal, aggregates all of your contacts from email, Linkedin, and Facebook, and gives each relationship a score from 0 to 100 based on level of closeness. Cloze aims to ensure that you’ll never miss a message from someone with whom you are close, while at the same time filtering out all of the extra email noise.
The founders of Cloze are picking up on a larger trend towards building online tools that make use of Internet communication, from email to social media, more efficient. Through its goal of integrating seamlessly into a user’s professional life, Foody states that Cloze is not pining for constant engagement like other networking apps, but rather aims to “fit into the fabric of the way you already do stuff and makes it better.”
A conversation with the founders showed that Foody, the CEO of Cloze, sympathizes with the average working person. “Everyone has too much to do these days,” he said, and with many social networking tools, “you have to do a lot of work to get a lot of value out of it.” In giving each relationship a score, Foody and Coté build on a network that you already have, rather than asking you to join and maintain another one.
Cloze, which released in Beta last week, distills a flood of emails down to messages from people who are most important to you based on six factors: dormancy, frequency of contact, responsiveness, one-on-one versus group interaction, freshness of topic, and balance in reaching out and responding. The founders feel that this measurement is more reflective of reality than networks where all connections are on equal standing.
If you want to share your network, you can invite someone into your “Inner Circle.” Here they can see your connections and where they work, how close you are to them, and request an introduction. By looking through your inner circle, a member will know if you have a working relationship with someone or have only met them once at a conference, which saves them time in trying to find the right contact and introduction the first time around.
Foody and Coté have reexamined the professional network in light of their own professional experience and have concluded that, “what people most want is something that figures it out for you.” Cloze will elevate those who use the site to manage their networks with those who have a natural talent for it. In other words, this product will level the networking playing field, helping you to bring back connections that might have slipped, and pull your network even “clozer.”
Keren Baruch is a rising senior at Barnard College studying Economics and Social History. She is currently working at a New York City-based tech startup, Grovo.com, an online Internet education and training platform with video tutorials for cloud based software to learn everything fromFacebook and Pinterest and tohelp answer questions like what is LinkedIn.