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November 3, 2008
3 Min Read
As social networks go, LinkedIn is not as flashy as MySpace or as "vox populi" as Facebook, but it gets the job done, especially for those of us in the real working world with a handful of new add-ons ready to download.LinkedIn, which counts 30 million members in its net, rolled out the features in late October as proof of concept that it needed $22.7 million in another round of funding, on the heels of a $53 million infusion a few months earlier.
The applications are built by some of the better-known software widget makers like Box.net, SlideShare, and Huddle.net, as well as the big guns like Google, WordPress, Six Apart, and Amazon.com.
The goal, according to the site, is to allow subscribers and your network of contacts to share and collaborate within LinkedIn's walls. It's very similar to what we're seeing in the market with Google Apps and Facebook. At launch, LinkedIn added nine applications. More are expected.
The basic problem with most widgets is that you have to subscribe to the third-party provider's system and so does the person you're collaborating with. I found that to be a no-win situation when I signed up for one photo service and my wife signed up for a different one.
Here's the short list with my take on some of them:
Huddle Workspaces by Huddle.net
Huddle offers online workspaces with project, collaboration, and sharing tools for working with your connections. It lets you create and edit Word (.doc) and Excel spreadsheet (.xls) files online and comes with 1 GB of free storage. I signed up but may forget to use it.
Blog Link by Six Apart This connects your blog to your LinkedIn profile. Great if you use TypePad or Vox. Not so much if you have Blogger or WordPress. Box.net Files by Box.net This online content-sharing site allows for collaboration with friends and colleagues. Again, handshaking depends on both parties signing up for the widget. SlideShare Presentations by SlideShare A place to upload or display your own presentations, check out presentations from your colleagues, and find experts within your network. My Travel by TripIt See where your LinkedIn network is traveling and when you will be in the same city as your colleagues. Share your upcoming trips, current location, and travel stats with your network. A fairly good broadcast tool for sales types, but you can do the same with Google or Facebook. Company Buzz by LinkedIn Ever wonder what people are saying about your company? Company Buzz shows you the Twitter activity associated with your company. I immediately added Company Buzz because it scans Twitter and related microblogs for information. They mention that they'll be adding trend data soon. So this could be a good tool for marketers, PR types, or if you were to scope out a new company. WordPress "Connect your virtual lives," claims the app. So now you can sync your WordPress blog posts with your LinkedIn profile. Unfortunately, LinkedIn already has a "What are you working on?" feature that broadcasts changes to your profile. Google Presentation Upload a .PPT or use Google's online application to embed a presentation on your profile. See above comment about Huddle for my thoughts on this one. Reading List by Amazon Share what books you're reading with other LinkedIn members. "Find out what you should be reading by following updates from your connections, people in your field, or other LinkedIn members of professional interest to you." I love using Amazon. But if you are a privacy freak, this app is not for you.
Overall, LinkedIn has a ways to go to grow its apps business and still maintain its integrity, which so far, it has done a good job at. If this and other social networks are to build mindshare and revenue, however, they may be best served to simplify the sign-up processes for third-party applications so that subscribers don't feel like they have to fill out a software stack full of forms.
If you want to view my profile, I'm at linkedin.com/in/msinger.
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