A few months back we asked the question, “LinkedIn – What’s the big deal?” TechConsumer author Marion Jensen hadn’t signed up and was excited to get started, only to find out that the site offered little to do. It seemed like Facebook without the fun factor, a social network for professionals. You create a profile, describe your professional history, and connect with others. In turn, you can see who your “friends” (or is that business associates?) are connected with. The idea is to build your professional network. But to what end?
Well, today LinkedIn has released a bunch of new features in an attempt to boost usage of the site. You’ll be able to find connections to people on LinkedIn while you’re using other websites. As an example, Business Week now has a feature that shows you how you’re connected through LinkedIn to people and companies written about in its articles. Click on a name in an article, and a popup window will show how you’re connected through LinkedIn (see screenshot below). Business Week will also let you send the article to your LinkedIn friends. The LinkedIn friend you send it to will see it the next time he/she logs in to LinkedIn.
Another new feature: LinkedIn has introduced “modules” (like Facebook applications). One example module is a calendar that can appear in LinkedIn, which shows upcoming events in your industry. The application automatically knows your industry based on your LinkedIn profile. It lists other people who will be attending these conferences and links to their profiles for you to connect.
LinkedIn will also provide a news aggregator, which will automatically show you articles about your industry. The company hasn’t released the algorithim it uses, but the idea is to give you relevant and personalized news. You’ll also be able to see the most popular articles about your company or your competition.
LinkedIn has trimmed down its homepage design by eliminating a bunch of buttons on the top menu. Now there are only five buttons: People, Jobs, Answers, Services, and Inbox. In short, LinkedIn wants to be easier to use and, more importantly, wants to be used period. The company has more than 16 million registered users and claims it is gaining more than one million new members per month.
All the features listed above seem like good ideas. But I already handle my calendaring and news through other services at this point, though the unique integration with sites like Business Week isn’t something really offered elsewhere. Perhaps I’ll use LinkedIn a little more… Will you?