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LinkedIn to Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Guest blogger CRM MVP Matt Wittemann is the director of the CRM practice at Customer Connect and has been working with CRM since it was first released. Matt has a passion for helping businesses get more profitable and efficient through the effective use of CRM tools and improved processes.

LinkedIn is slowly releasing APIs to allow developers to integrate their popular business networking site with external applications. One of the first widgets they’ve released is the LinkedIn Company Insider. This widget allows web sites to show LinkedIn connections from a given company from within the context of the web site. More information is available at http://www.linkedin.com/static?key=developers_widget_companyinsider.

Of course, this would be tremendously helpful to salespeople who are trying to find the inside track when working a Lead in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The following sample shows how to integrate this LinkedIn widget with CRM so it shows in an iFrame on the CRM Lead form.

The result is that you can open a Lead record and the iFrame will show you how many LinkedIn users work at the Lead’s company. You can click on them to open a new window to view all the connections, and, of course, you’ll get the most out of the widget if you have a LinkedIn account so you can reach out to these people in your sales process.

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(Isn’t it cool that the top three people that come up for Microsoft are all CRM folks? Sorry Phil, Jim and Menno! I needed a real world example to show the functionality of this widget!)

To install this widget in CRM, create an iFrame on the Lead form. There’s plenty of documentation on the web and in the SDK on creating iFrames for CRM, so I won’t go into the steps here. But make sure to place a check next to the option to pass parameters to the iFrame and remove the checkbox that restricts cross-frame scripting. You might also want to set the iFrame to be 4 or more rows high and expandable to fill any available space.

In my sample, I named the iFrame “linkedin” and I pointed it at my custom HTML page, which I put in the handy ISV folder inside the CRM web site. In previous versions of CRM, developers had to venture into unsupported territory and create their own custom folders inside the CRM web site folder structure, but in 4.0 there’s a handy ISV folder. Place a simple HTML page in the ISV folder with the following code, and point your new iFrame at this page by using a relative URL like “/ISV/linkedin.html” (be sure to replace the file name with whatever you’ve called your HTML page).

The HTML:

<html>

<head>

<script src=”http://www.linkedin.com/companyInsider?script&useBorder=no&#8221; type=”text/javascript”></script>

</head>

<body>

<center>

<span id=”getlinkedin”></span>

</center>

<script type=”text/javascript”>

var parentForm = parent.frames.document.crmForm;

new LinkedIn.CompanyInsiderBox(“getlinkedin”,parentForm.all.companyname.DataValue);

</script>

</body>

This simple code in your HTML page references a javascript file housed on LinkedIn’s server, and the script in the body of the page gets the value from the Company Name field on the Lead. (This won’t work if the Company Name field is empty or missing from your Lead form – you can also consider adding some error checking to this sample for your production environment.)

Cheers,

Matt Wittemann

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