Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Google+: The Circles

This post is about Google+ circles. I haven’t been that excited about the circles, and finally realize why. On the surface, they seem to apply to creative organizers, of which I am one—right brained and all.

Right-brained organizers are sometimes called “creative”organizers. (I wish this meant we were good at decorating a room, but the two do not go hand-in-hand.) Left-brain organizers are sometimes called “logical” organizers. If you have right-brain tendencies, that label makes no sense at all. One difference is simple and rather stupid, but here it is: Left-brain organizers like to use drawers and file cabinets to keep things organized. Right-brain organizers tend to think out of sight, out of mind and prefer things to be on shelves where they can be seen. Right-brain organizers prefer vertical files and bookshelves, labeled boxes and containers.

My latest desk only has one top middle drawer and it holds change for the drink machine, some small tools, and Tylenol. The last office I had when I was working as a paralegal had nice need drawers and mine were empty (or the holding container for my umbrella).

So on the one hand, I should love the Google+ Circles. Google Circles allow sorting friends, cousins, and people I don’t know at all but want to hear their ideas into separate containers. It’s sort of like placing all your aunts in one circle and letting them discuss things you don’t want your business associates to know about you. Ever.

As a right-brianed organizer, I love that Google provides nifty containers to place people in. If I hover over the circle, I can “see” who’s there. The problem for me is that the entire list of people is laid out in a grid above the circles in an order that I don’t understand. It’s hard to know who’s been sorted into a circle and who needs to be sorted. I can’t reorder the list to “group” the names in a specific way, and once someone is placed into a circle, they still appear across the top of the screen.  

The whole thing feels like putting books on the shelves but having another copy piled on the floor, and every time I pick up the copy to put it away another copy of the same book appears.

In one way, that’s a good thing. I can put people into a circle labeled “Friends” and into a circle labeled “Colleagues.” (Even the idea of a circle is much more appealing to creative organizers than a folder.)

In reality, I'm making a very big deal out of something that is very easy.

The circles hinge on three easy-enough activities: Searching for People; Creating Circles; and Placing People in Circles.  Once people are sorted into circles, you can make business sense out of the circles.

Search for People
Search for people you know by typing their names into the search bar at the top right of the screen.

Another way to search is by going to one person’s page and finding out who is in their circles. You can click on the person and then click on a little box that says “Add to your circles.”

Searching for people is kind of a drag because I feel like I already did this for Twitter. I could passively wait for people to find me, except the exciting part about Google+ is similar to Twitter in that if you want to find people with great ideas, will pull from your email address books if you provide permission.

Create Circles
Really everything you need to know about creating circles happens in the grayed-out first circle. If you click on this circle:

you will get a link that says “Create a Circle.” You can also rename the circles that are already there. Click on the circle and you’ll see some editing tools. You can either click the pencil to edit or the trashcan to delete the circle.

Place People in Circles
To place people in circles, just drag them into the circle. Notice that they don’t disappear from the grid above the circle, which means you can put them into as many circles as you want. I like this feature. If you hover over a person’s grid photo, you can see which circles they are in.

Make Business Sense Out of the Circles
Use your circles to sort business clients. You might have a "customers" circle, a "prospects" circle, and a "wish" folder. The idea is that you can tailor posts to your stream toward different groups. (The next post will discuss the messages you post into your stream, so I won't go into that here.) You can decide to share pics of your vacation with only friends and family and share the latest business venture with customers and potential customers. The options are amazing. Or, you can make the post completely public, so anyone can see it.

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