LinkedIn Makes Its Move

Posted by: Rob Hof on December 10, 2007

Not long ago, before Facebook stubbed its toe, a lot of people were assuming LinkedIn was about to get buried by the upstart social network. I never thought that was likely, since the overlap between the two services’ offerings is relatively small (Facebook is mostly for socializing with people you already know, while LinkedIn is for meeting people you don’t know, for professional purposes, through people you do know).

On Monday, LinkedIn is making it clear that it’s far from a has-been.

In fact, Nielsen numbers recently showed LinkedIn growing at a faster rate than Facebook.(Full disclosure: BusinessWeek is now a partner with LinkedIn, more on that later.) For one, it's announcing a raft of new features. From the release:

A redesigned homepage – now in beta testing – with several customizable modules:

--The Answers module showcases what questions your network is asking, so that you can directly contribute to the network’s knowledge and perhaps ask a question yourself.

--The People module showcases the contacts you can make through your network (by using the connections of your connections).

--The Jobs module showcases the jobs and opportunities your network can help you with.

* LinkedIn News– now in beta testing – makes it easy for every professional to read the articles they need to read, by leveraging the power of their business connections. LinkedIn News starts by delivering news about key daily topics: a user's company, products, industry, and competitors, drawn from more than 10,000 publishers and blogs. Then, LinkedIn News uses the wisdom of each user's "crowd" of colleagues to determine the handful of articles that are the most important to their business -- the articles they need to read that day. LinkedIn News Beta is currently available to a select group of users, and will be expanded to all LinkedIn members in the new year.

LinkedIn also is announcing an "Intelligent Applications Platform" (yes, another social apps platform) that will let other sites use LinkedIn's APIs to build applications on their own sites and on LinkedIn itself. BusinessWeek is the first partner, though it likely won't be the only one. The BW piece isn't available yet. From the apps release:

LinkedIn’s Intelligent Applications platform is composed of two pieces: the ability to get LinkedIn into your application and the ability to get your application into LinkedIn.

LinkedIn partners will be able to build LinkedIn features into their applications, enabling LinkedIn users to access to their professional networks wherever and whenever they need it to accomplish professional tasks. Using a set of LinkedIn APIs and widgets, partner sites using the Intelligent Application Platform will be augmented with business networking features allowing the 17 million LinkedIn users to be more productive on those sites.

As for those rumors about News Corp. buying LinkedIn? Nye wouldn't comment directly, but notes, "It's all working well now. Why would we sell?" (LinkedIn is projecting it will have $75 million to $100 million in revenues next year.) That said, LinkedIn is clearly prickly about the competition from Facebook. And there are only so many social networks, personal or professional, that people will embrace with any kind of regularity. So the acceptance of these latest initiatives may well determine if LinkedIn is one of those chosen few.

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Reader Comments

tiddle

December 10, 2007 10:58 AM

One could argue that when they started out, LinkedIn was mostly for the tech folks, Facebook for the college kids, and MySpace the teens and preteens. As time progresses, their respective universe overlaps some. Now, Facebook is open for public (to make money), older generations sneak in MySpace, and LinkedIn for other non-tech adults professionals. To mimic the real world social scenes, it's easy to see how the web versions evolve. Afterall, I mix with colleagues at work, who're not necessarily my college buddies, who are not necessarily my neighbors down the street. So, why would people think that by moving the social sites to another medium (internet), that would change, and that Facebook (or MySpace, or whoever) would "bury" LinkedIn? Why do people (analysts mostly) reduce themselves to think that we would get all our "friends" from one single site and not a handful of them? The thinking is so simplistic, it's laughable.

Deborah J. Boyd

December 10, 2007 11:08 AM

Actually, I think LinkedIn should think about an acquisition of XING, based in Germany. Globalization is here to stay.
XING brings China, Germany, India, and South America and has had little luck in attracting USA subscribers.

J.George

December 10, 2007 11:20 AM

Here is a great idea for LinkedIn:

Just as the site allows you to import your Gmail contacts, you should be able to import your Facebook contacts as well. That will really help build people's networks and connections and grab some Facebook addicts as well looking for a different type of social networking feel.

Thanks!

Puneet

December 10, 2007 11:48 AM

I agree. LinkedIn is very different from Facebook, and is definitely growing at a phenomenal rate. LinkedIn is a great way to connect with business contacts, while not giving away any personal information. The recommendations on LinkedIn help to make a positive impression, even before the actual meeting/interview

Ian

December 10, 2007 12:46 PM

Linkedin has a massive potential for corporate's b2b marketing, finding the right contact or prospect in a large organisation is a major challenge not helped by standard websites. The ability to find people you used to work with or who have worked at your company is a real value for prospect generation Big integration between CRM systems & Linkedin will look increasingly attractive to global corporates

iancrocombe.typepad.com

Ajay

December 10, 2007 01:40 PM

I belive that increasingly there will be convergence between social networking sites, the same war as was fought over browsers ,email addresses and portals is carrying over to the social networkinn sites. Ultimately each site is like a television program , while the internet is one big television channel.

There may not be too much overlap between linkedin , orkut, myspace,facebook (and xing...) but ultimately they compete for online audiences the same way as programs like the Oprah Winfrey show and Sopranos competed for ratings.

The surprise card may be held by the wise men of Microsoft, who having ceded ground on nearly all online activities have finally started getting their act starting with injecting some muscle into Facebook, revamping the Office Live community.

As for importing contacts , the best site is Plaxo.com.You can link up nearly every site that you are connected to there.

you can linkup to both linkedin and facebook friends, and read them in a RSS feed .

the open code movement will reach its high point some wherewhen sheer momentum from Google Social API's will force all these sites to interact.

My 2 cents of the Web2.0 Wars are here http://decisionstats.com/drupal/

but I could be totally wrong here, but I still feel all these sites will end up making this as a super Television kind of addicts to all of us. The interesting part is it will reach into your professional life as well.

jim

December 10, 2007 01:42 PM

i find the number of "applications" on facebook annoying to some degree and helpful in others. in the end of the day nothing beats face to face.

John

December 10, 2007 02:12 PM

I used LinkedIn in the past but to get new business contacts and manage projects we've been using daikana.com. Guess Ill check out what LinkedIn has to offer now.

Michael

December 10, 2007 02:18 PM

LinkedIn is useful for making business contacts. The fact that to join you need to be invited also helps. I hope they don't pollute it by opening its doors to anyone and expanding it to include all the worthless drivel that Facebook & MySpace are full of.

Farhat

December 10, 2007 07:35 PM

I think Linkedin stopped being invitation only a while back.

John Acheson

December 10, 2007 10:08 PM

Going to school and getting a MBA in San Francisco, I have been using LinkedIn for a long-time. It's very well known in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley but I find adults from overseas or other areas like Las Vegas are hesitant to sign up to a new site they've never heard of. But I have introduced several LinkedIn virgins to the site and am surprised to watch their connections explode upward. So it's not really about which web site, it's about digitizing the analogue network one already has. If you have a lot of contacts real life, you'll be popular online... I'm not sure if it works the other way around???

James

December 10, 2007 11:26 PM

Sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Linkedin and others are pointless! Not be hateful, but as a web designer I truly don't see the big fuss with the Social Networking sites Craze. I can understand if teens are interested in social networking, but adults in their 20's and up, I can't understand how they have time to waste. Are people that self-important they can't communicate face-to-face instead of the web. All these Social Networking sites are same and have no differences. How does each site difference themselves from each other? Who will be the next Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, or Linkedin because they're coming. I think the only Social Networking site that's truly useful is YouTube, Blogger, and maybe Delicious.

JL4N3

December 11, 2007 08:22 AM

James,

Sociel networking is not pointless, let me explain...

I am an eager 21 year old "professional" and work in the CPG (consumer Packaged Goods) Sales & Marketing industry. I have worked sales and marketing, retail and non-retail since I was 17. LinkedIn offers me a place to network with well more experienced professionals and it won't be long before you start reading success stories of younger and younger professionals in today's buninesses due to these social networks...

ahmed

December 11, 2007 08:33 AM

...look at all of the LinkedIn employees hyping their site...The growth rate doesn't mean that much at this point in time due to their small size.

Matt

December 11, 2007 09:36 AM

"LinkedIn is for meeting people you don’t know,"
No it's not. It's not for connecting with random people who want to sell you things you don't need.
It's for materializing your existing network and growing that through connections organically. If you someone asks you to connect and you don't know them, click the button that says "I don't know " and you will not be connected.

Blick

December 11, 2007 04:54 PM

"Sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Linkedin and others are pointless!" James

I would disagree, atleast with LinkedIn. I've been using it for a few years now and I think its great. I don't actually do much except add people from my work. It's a great site to keep work contacts that are just co-workers and not really friends. But when I'm looking for another job and I see someone I used to work with is not there, its a good foot in the door.

messels

December 11, 2007 05:39 PM

other than KEEPING in contact w/ people, SNS are totally pointless.

they do NOTHING. you don't make new friends (facebook, myspace) and you certainly won't close any deals (linkedin) by using them. waste of time, and in the case of linked in, a waste of $$ [for the professional upgrade--ooo, i can send a message to someone i don't know?...erg, duh...i can do that for FREE by just sending them an email to their corp email account).

finding the right person to speak w/ at a company has never been easier. every co' has a website, every website has an about or leadership or management button. click on it. wham, you now have the names of the top executives. who else is going to purchase a product? if they're not on the co' website, you're def' talking w/ the wrong person.

Tech_Guy_101

December 12, 2007 12:05 AM

"Social Networking Sites are pointless" Blink

I honestly I believe S.N.S such as Facebook, MySpace, HI5, and others are completely hype! Most of these sites have or share the same platform, and purpose. None of these sites differ from each other. How do people have time to create accounts on facebook, myspace and etc. I'm 25yrs old with a career and school and like any other adults with careers and common sense they wouldn't waste their time on Social Networking Sites. As far as LikedIn, I recently registered, and honestly the site is not helpful. LikedIn's information is info feed from major sites like yahoo, monsterjobs, and others. But I'll give likedin another shot! Right now It's pointless! It's another Social Networking Site that looks cute!

bill706

December 12, 2007 09:12 AM

"Social Networking sites are pointless"
I have used linkedin for almost 2 years. I have never considered it a social networking site - more of a business networking site. As such, it is invaluable for the 35+ crowd who have a large group of school and business contacts pre-dating the web era. Writers, economists, MBAs, IT-guys, PR - in my experience all have found value. Personally, I have introduced 10+ people to it and actively use it as a screening tool for prospective contacts. I am selective about who I join networks on linkedin.
If linkedin strays from its original mission - moving to social rather than purely business contacts, then the users like me and others I have brought in will migrate away. This would be a mistake, its strength is its unique niche in business networking.

Steven Burda

December 18, 2007 11:33 PM

Good read,

- Steven Burda
http://www.linkedin.com/in/burda

John

December 22, 2007 01:18 PM

As far as whether LinkedIn is a same-old, same-old social networking site, I also have to disagree. I have not yet reaped tangible business-related benefits from the site (and I'm only about six-months new to it), but the way I look at it, it is like planting the seeds toward a future connection and potential jobs. Presently, I am happy with my two jobs (both in the entertainment industry), but when I am ready to move on, or to expand my horizons, I have a sense of security (hopefully not illusory) that someone in my close network will know someone in a position to help me at a company I have my eye on.

I like the simplcitiy and professional "look" to LinkedIn, and have grown very weary of the screaming, busy look-at-me-love-me! pages on FaceBook and MySpace (though I believe these and other networking sites provide a basic human need for community). LinkedIn has also brought me into contact with some very long-lost friends from college and earlier days, for which I'm grateful.

Finally, there are the trusted testimonials of some of my own friends who have actually landed jobs from their LinkedIn networking. One of my friends has received dozens of contracts from people he "met" at first through LinkedIn. So.... anyone looking for a composer for their film or TV project?!

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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