Facebook Could Challenge Google And Become The Remote Control For The Web

November 2, 2007

by Stephen Wellman

On Aug 16, the blog Facebook Insider reported that TripAdvisor acquired Where I’ve Been, the top travel-related application on Facebook. While TripAdvisor later denied the rumor, the ensuing story exposed something: The exploding number of applications on Facebook. Thanks to its Facebook API program, Facebook is fast becoming the front page for much of the Web.

In July, I argued that Facebook posed a challenge to professional networking site LinkedIn. While I stand by that assessment, I think that in that post I didn’t go far enough. Given just how fast Facebook’s API program is growing, Facebook may present an even more interesting challenge to the Web. Facebook could shape up as a rival toGoogle, Yahoo, and even search itself.

By integrating more applications into its platform, Facebook is trying to transform itself from being just a social networking platform to becoming a full-interactive control panel or remote control for the Web. Unlike earlier attempts to do this — think of the portal model of Web 1.0 — Facebook has designed its API system so that users can access all the Web sites they want without ever leaving Facebook, or opening new Web pages. I suspect that Facebook will expand this functionality so that eventually the entire Web can be accessed through these widgets.

In short, Facebook wants to become the locus of control for much of the user’s Web activity, letting the user seamlessly share travel information, pull in news updates from blogs like TechCrunch, or send questions to the user’s social network with apps like MyQuestions.

If you will allow me to extend the remote control metaphor, Facebook users no longer have to go “out there” in the rest of the Web to get new sites, they can pull them through Facebook, either with invites from the app providers or, more effectively, through their social network itself. The cumulative impact of this could be huge. Just as the remote control gave birth to the couch potato (the ultimate passive TV viewer), so too could Facebook change the game for Web use.

If users no longer need to search to find new cool Web applications, they won’t need to use Google, Yahoo, or MSN as much. Instead, they can rely on Facebook for finding new applications. Now, I don’t think this would mean the end of search, but it could reduce its importance pretty significantly. If that happens, Google loses power and Facebook gains it.

What do you think? Do Facebook and its exploding universe of applications pose a real threat to Google and search in general?

Source:

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Social Computing Moves Into Recruitment

October 29, 2007

A new research by Forrester.

Human capital management (HCM) professionals are faced with a shrinking labor pool, lower unemployment rates, vacant jobs orders that require increasingly specialized and sought-after skills, and an environment where traditional recruiting processes and systems fail to align with many job seekers’ use of technology. To combat these challenges, strategic recruiters are finding alternatives to turbo-charge their traditional recruiting programs — and one alternative is Social Computing. Younger workers — and to an increasing degree older ones, too — are embracing Social Computing as a way to consume information and build relationships. Firms must deliberately weave many aspects of Social Computing into their traditional recruiting programs to find — and ultimately hire — the best talent possible.

Read more at http://www.unitedBIT.com


LINKEDIN TOOLBOX: Top 10 LinkedIn Tools

October 29, 2007

Following the footsteps of Facebook, LinkedIn is set to develop its API for developers soon. Until then, we can make use of some cool tools, scripts, and plugins to manage this popular social network better and easier to use.

LinkedInABox

LinkedInAbox provides a widget that displays various profile information on your blog or site in a neat looking rectangular box. Take this as a step ahead of LinkedIn’s default site-buttons that only link to your profile page. The information at LinkedInAbox is displayed inside the box without you having to leave the web page you are on.

Information that you can choose to display are your profile summary, specialities, education, experience, public profile, recommendations, connections, and ‘drop me a line’. You can choose from six color themes for the box or choose to put a background picture.

Email Linkify

Email Linkify is a Greasemonkey script that you can use on your Firefox browser. It changes all the emails in your online inbox or websites into web links. Clicking these links adds the emails into your LinkedIn Contact List.

LinkedIn Contacts Management

LinkedIn Contacts Management is a desktop application that functions as a mailing list manager allowing you to send emails to all your LinkedIn contacts at one go. The tool imports your LinkedIn contact list information complete with name, email, country, company, etc. You can filter this list later according to your requirements. You can also export your data in a CSV or text format.

LinkedIn Contacts

LinkedIn Contacts is a Facebook application that allows you to share your LinkedIn contacts on your Facebook profile or share them with your friends. So if you know someone in LinkedIn who could be of help to one of your Facebook friends, then this might be a good way to introduce them to each other.

My Company’s Hiring

My Company’s Hiring is another Facebook application that you can use to display available job positions in you organization. Does your company pay referral fee to anyone who brings in new employees to the organization? If the answer is yes, then it’s time you use the power of social networking to help you earn a part of this fee.

My Resume is another Facebook application that lets you post your Linkedin profile or your resume on Facebook. You can use this tool to request resumes from your Facebook friends. There is a listing of Top 100 resumes ranked by the number of recommendations. You can search for resume and there is a country specific listing as well.

To view resumes for professionals who are not in you immediate network, you need to earn credits by inviting your friends to see your resume, writing or getting a recommendation.

LinkedIn hResume

LinkedIn hResume is a WordPress plugin to display your LinkedIn profile in your WordPress blog in your own customized design. It does the job by using the hResume microformat block from your LinkedIn page.

You need to set your LinkedIn profile to Full View in order to make this plugin work.

LinkedIn Toolbars

LinkedIn Tools is set of official tools from LinkedIn itself consisting of a outlook toolbar, browser toolbar for Firefox and Internet Explorer, email signature, Mac search widget, and a Google toolbar assistant.

With the Outlook toolbar, you can update your Outlook contacts with LinkedIn profile and receive notification when your contacts make any changes in their profiles. The browser toolbar has a search form and provides access to various LinkedIn profiles. The Jobs Insider tool in the browser toolbar allows you to check out job openings at popular job sites and connect you to people in your network who work in a recruitment company.

Export LinkedIn Connections

Export LinkedIn Connections – This is another tool from LinkedIn that allows you to export your LinkedIn contacts to Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, Yahoo! Address Book, or Mac OS Address Book as a CSV or VCF file. Detailed instructions for each of the services are given on the LinkedIn site.

LinkedIn Search Engines for Firefox

LinkedIn Search Engines for Firefox is a plugin that adds the LinkedIn search options to the Firefox browser’s default search box in the upper right hand corner of the browser. There are two engines available. The first one allows you to search contacts by name, title, or organization. The second one allows you to search for jobs in the LinkedIn network.

Source: Mashable.com


Doing business online – advise from the internet pioneers on what not to do

October 18, 2007

By Jeffrey Gangemi

Marcel Legrand, senior vice-president for strategy and development (Monster, founded in 1999)

Advice: Don’t get burned by user-contributed content. It’s tempting to create viral, open-source information, but there are issues around liability and the truth of the data. If Monster allowed people to create career content, users wouldn’t be getting good, strong info about interviewing and how to write a resume. You have to balance between professional and community content.

As a young company, it’s tempting to allow your brand to go all over the place. Don’t let it happen! Be vigilant about managing your brand, so the blogosphere doesn’t tear you apart. You’ve got one chance to come out of the block, so make sure you’re the voice of the brand. Amy Klement, vice-president for products, Paypal (a division of eBay, founded 1998)

Advice: Focus matters — don’t lose sight of your core capabilities. PayPal has been successful by staying 100 percent focused on payments and carefully building its expertise over the last seven years. [Online] payments is a complicated business, requiring a maniacal focus on risk management and fraud. PayPal has built some of the most sophisticated and world-class fraud systems in the industry.

Neil Hunt, chief product officer, Netflix (founded in 1997)

Advice: Don’t believe that you understand the whole business model from the beginning. Plan to fail inexpensively and early. We built stuff quick and dirty, then left a lot of stuff up to customer service reps on the phone. The lesson here is, don’t be afraid to cut corners. If you spend a lot of time building something and it’s the wrong thing, then you’ve wasted a lot of resources. As we grew, we knew that we’d need Web site components that could scale hugely. We couldn’t be too attached to technology; we had to be prepared to switch and change.

Konstantin Guericke, co-founder and vice-president, LinkedIn, founded in 2003

Advice: Don’t have a bunch of promotion and marketing fluff on your page. Just saying you’re the best doesn’t mean you’re the best. Customers want to know how much it’s going to cost, how long it’s going to take to get to them, and if they’re going to get good service.

Don’t take up screen real estate that’s not actionable, useful information. Don’t make them click too much or make it too hard to find products. If they don’t find what they want from the home page, they’re going to click to the next site. They’re expecting convenience. Make a compelling offer, because customers on the Internet are expecting a deal.

Ben Nelson, general manager, Snapfish (a division of HP, founded in 1999)

Advice: Don’t chase other customer segments before you’ve won your primary. From the day after we launched, we’ve had pressure to go beyond ‘Emily,’ the woman whom we consider to be our core customer. If we solve issues for our busiest, highest-volume user, how likely is it that we’ll get our fair share of the rest of the market? High.
Don’t hire too quickly!

Dwayne Stradlin, president, Hoovers online (a division of Dun & Bradstreet, launched in 1994)

Advice: Avoid anything that doesn’t focus on the unique thing that your company does well. Protect it, invest in it. The other thing is to focus on scaling — small companies sometimes run into a wall. They can’t scale.

Clarence So, senior vice-president for marketing in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, Salesforce (founded in 1999)

Advice: Don’t let potential investors throw you off what your gut is telling you to do. As the entrepreneur, you’re defining the market. The entrepreneur is the person with the passion and vision that started the company.

Don’t waste time focusing on anything that’s not your company’s core competency, like installing software. I would encourage small companies to adopt business Web applications before installing traditional software. Your technology should support core competency in simple, easy-to-use, easy-to-adopt fashion.

Melissa Payner, chief executive officer, Bluefly (founded in 1998)
Advice: Don’t do something that’s already well covered or already exploited in the marketplace. If you’re the small guy, you’re not going to come in and get noticed unless you have something different. We made sure that we identified our focus from a brand perspective. It wasn’t like any designer could be on Bluefly. There was trust established that it would the “in” designers and [the] “right” designers and would [follow the latest] trend. We were arrogant about who would be on Bluefly. Once you decide, you have to be true to it.

Sally McKenzie, senior vice-president and general manager, Expedia (founded as a division of Microsoft in 1995 and spun off in 1996)

Advice: Don’t assume your customer shops like you do. You need to be sure to look at everything from your customers’ perspective — to understand the consideration factors and the decision process they go through, as well as what tools, information, and services they need along the way. In listening to and observing our customers, we’ve learned that their shopping behavior varies depending on the reason they are traveling and the type of trip they are planning. This is especially true in the early stages of travel planning. A business traveler who knows that they need to be in New York next Thursday by 3 p.m. will shop one way, while a couple planning time off from work to de-stress in a warm, sunny beach destination will go through a very different process.

Mark Floisand, director of worldwide direct commerce, Adobe Systems (founded in 1982)
Advice: Evidence-based decision making is critical to successful ecommerce; avoid rash decisions based on gut feeling alone. E-commerce leaders have the technology, scale, and data available to them to do rapid testing, learn quickly from it, then implement or adjust as necessary. To not take advantage of this powerful, rapid feedback loop, is to miss a major strategic advantage of the online channel itself.

Jeff Glueck, chief marketing officer, Travelocity (founded in 1996)

Advice: Don’t forget your economic engine. Figure out where your margin is coming from, in volume and unit margin. Before Travelocity’s turnaround, we failed to drive revenue growth, because we were addicted to one vulnerable business model — commission from selling airline tickets. We realized that there was more money to be made from other products like trip packages, rental cars, and other things.

Don’t forget the human element. Part of our revival was promising consumers that there are real human beings on the phone, in case they needed help. The human trust and expertise — we layered that onto online software.David Filo, chief “Yahoo” and co-founder, Yahoo (founded in 1994)

Advice: It’s important to never lose sight of your original goal. When Jerry and I founded Yahoo we were focused on making it easier for users to navigate the Web. That’s still our goal today. Our users continue to be at the core of everything we do.

Jim Buckmaster, chief executive officer, Craigslist (founded in 1995)
Advice: Don’t do what users don’t ask you to do. If you want to control your own future, don’t accept outside money, like from VCs. Don’t do marketing or advertising. As a startup company, those are some of the costliest things you can do. Those can chew up an enormous amount of money.

Source: www.businessweek.com


Smile, You’re on LinkedIn

September 27, 2007

By Aaron Ricadela

Business networking Web site LinkedIn is loosening its tie. Caught between a polished image as a nexus for professional contacts and the encroachment of Facebook and other networks, LinkedIn is taking a step toward informality. Starting Sept. 26, the site’s 14 million users will be able to post photos of themselves.

These won’t be just any photos, mind you. The company wants users to post serious-looking head shots of the kind that would accompany an executive biography. LinkedIn will “do everything we can to encourage it to remain professional,” says spokeswoman Kay Luo, lest the site “degrade” to the level of a less business-like destination. She didn’t name names, but it’s clear LinkedIn wants to avoid the informality of places like News Corp.’s MySpace and even Facebook, the social network that’s exploded in popularity and has become for some Web users an alternate to LinkedIn for keeping up with their professional contacts.

However limited, LinkedIn’s move satisfies users’ requests for a tool that can help jog the memory of a person’s face. It could also make the site more attractive at a time when traditional media and Web companies covet a slice of its affluent audience (BusinessWeek, 1/29/07), and the advertising money spent to reach it. Featuring photos “obviously seems critical for a social network,” says Barry Parr, a media analyst at JupiterResearch. “I don’t remember what all my business contacts look like.” The feature also puts starchy LinkedIn more in tune with the Web’s expanding social nature, which is blurring the line between professional contacts and friends.

Staying Relevant

More openness may be coming. LinkedIn is working on ways to let outside software developers tap into the company’s database to create applications that, for example, would let users keep tabs on their LinkedIn network from within an industry conference Web site, an Internet job board, or a business application like Salesforce.com. Making LinkedIn more accessible could be key to retaining value at a time when Microsoft and Google are reportedly eyeing investments in Facebook (BusinessWeek, 9/25/07) that could value the company at $10 billion or more. Facebook, which started as a hub for college kids who wanted to share beer photos and trade messages, has expanded to become, in Silicon Valley at least, a tool for keeping current (BusinessWeek, 8/6/07) with business contacts and planning conferences.

LinkedIn has hired a new chief financial officer, as well as vice-presidents of marketing, engineering, and operations, since June in preparation for a possible initial public offering in 2009, and may need to reassure investors that it remains relevant. “The challenge for LinkedIn is not only [that] Facebook [is] getting a whole lot more traffic, but in many cases people are using Facebook to pursue their business relationships,” says Josh Bernoff, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, who has used Facebook to find interview subjects for his research. “That’s what LinkedIn was developed for.” Facebook now claims 43 million members and is adding 200,000 a day. LinkedIn is adding users at a pace of about 36,000 a day.

A Different Kind of Club

Including photos isn’t a response to Facebook’s popularity, says LinkedIn’s Luo. “There is buzz about Facebook moving into the professional arena,” she says. But LinkedIn helps people expand their professional networks in part because of the participation of many higher-level executives who are unlikely to join other networks. “To be a useful professional network, you have to have the people above you on the network,” Luo says.

Indeed, LinkedIn has long debated whether to include photos, Luo says. As recently as an August interview, LinkedIn’s co-founder and president Reid Hoffman said “photos and business don’t go together,” partly because images could unduly influence recruiters. To lessen that threat, LinkedIn is letting HR reps turn off the feature so they can screen candidates without regard to age, race, and appearance.

Retention Concerns

Hoffman says the company for the past year has been working on an application programming interface that would let outside developers use some of LinkedIn’s data in their programs, and plans to release the technology by the spring of 2008. Hoffman gives the hypothetical example of a user of Salesforce.com’s customer management software being able to view the LinkedIn profiles for their leads without having to navigate to the LinkedIn site.

Whatever LinkedIn’s reason for adding photos, it will need to confront the bigger question of how big an appetite users and software developers will have for a proliferating number of social networks. Traditional media companies and Web outfits are trying to make social networking less of a destination and more of a feature. For instance, Yahoo!, Viacom’s MTV.com, and eBay are all adding networking features (BusinessWeek, 9/24/07).

The trend will likely accelerate in 2008, forcing users and developers to make harder choices about where to spend time online. “Social networking is going to be a feature in lots of places,” says Jupiter’s Parr. People are going to start picking and choosing where they make their home.” Amid the land rush, LinkedIn wants to make its high-earning devotees don’t stray too far from the cosseted quarters it’s built.

Source


Let’s Get Together

August 1, 2007

It’s not just who you know. It’s also who they know, and what they know. Online social networks have the potential to connect you to a vast world of people and resources, and they’ve gone from fad to fact of business life. Generally speaking, social networking services connect your list of personal contacts to the lists and profiles of others, giving you a bigger Rolodex of potential associates. These networks are finding ever more ways to be useful for tasks like finding employees and sales prospects, tracking down expertise, spreading marketing messages, and gathering customer feedback. Here are six services worth knowing.

Best for…Finding professionals

LinkedIn

What it is: A membership service through which 11 million people list work experience, references, and job goals. LinkedIn’s search engine, which scans the profiles, is an excellent tool for recruiting and job hunting. It’s aimed at individuals, though some companies use it.

What’s cool: A jobs area gives companies a huge base of connected businesspeople to recruit from. An answers service, which allows the posting of business questions, has a start-up and small-business category.

Drawbacks: Network spam–people you don’t know will ask to connect with you.

Price: The basic version is free. Premium versions offer features such as a greater number of introduction requests, fuller access to other people’s profiles, and the ability to directly contact people who aren’t connected to you. Plans range widely, from $60 to $2,000 a year (or $20 to $200 a month).

Best for…Looking good fast

Small World Labs

What it is: An online service that hosts customized social networks that use your own branding and Web address. Small World builds it; you can use it to link employees or to turn customers into a social network so they can share ideas.

What’s cool: Support for reviews, ratings, and a video gallery allow companies to build libraries of things such as customer-generated product demonstrations. For business use, “friends” can be called “contacts,” and “comments” are “testimonials.” You control what happens to customer data, reducing privacy issues.

Drawbacks: It’s pricey, though cheaper than hiring IT staff to build and maintain a network.

Price: There’s a $10,000 to $75,000 setup fee. Monthly hosting fees vary based on the size of the network; it typically falls between $500 and $3,000.

Best for…Marketing to Gen-Y

MySpace

What it is: You know about MySpace. About 65 million people use it to create pages with personal pictures, blog entries, video clips, and links to the pages of their friends. Its size and the passion of its users make MySpace a good way to build buzz among consumers, especially younger ones. Bands and authors build pages looking to get linked to by MySpace members and featured on MySpace pages dedicated to music or artists.

What’s cool: Even if you don’t have a MySpace page, the company’s partnership with Google allows placement of ads targeted to specific pages, interests, and searches. If you have a page, you control how it looks, and it’s easy to post audio and video.

Drawbacks: It’s easy to develop an ugly MySpace page. It takes time to maintain a good one–time you could be spending on your main website.

Price: Free

Best for…Mobile marketing

Twitter

What it is: A message-posting service designed to let people send very short messages–140 characters or less. While many people use it for short-form blogging, marketers can use it to post quickie updates to customers and work groups can use it to keep tabs on what other members are doing.

What’s cool: Free search engines, developed by third parties, let you type in your company name and see Twitterers talking about it. In addition to computers, Twitter also runs on cell phones, so customers or co-workers don’t have to be at a desk to get or post messages.

Drawbacks: Twitter is still experimental, and its developers haven’t done anything to tailor it for business use. Making it work requires building your own network of customers or clients.

Price: Free

Best for…Hearing customers

Yelp

What it is: An online service that lets users rate and comment on local businesses. You can see what your customers think about you and engage with them.

What’s cool: Yelp can help entrepreneurs move their real-world buzz to the Web by capturing it in writing. The feedback provided by reviews and ratings can be invaluable–and it’s cheaper than running a survey. Business owners can engage customers directly. Yelp also offers a sponsorship program in which companies can pay for increased prominence in searches.

Drawbacks: You don’t control the content; consumers can post whatever they like. Business sponsorships are currently available in only three cities: San Francisco, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Price: Free to register. Sponsorships cost $250 to $2,000 a month.

Best for…Helping salespeople

Visible Path

What it is: Software that integrates with e-mail, CRM applications, and other corporate programs to produce a searchable web of the relationships that exist within and outside a company.

What’s cool: Companies can use Visible Path’s software to grease the rails for salespeople by giving them better introductions to potential clients–the theory being that someone in your company might well have a good relationship with someone at a potential client company. It even defines the closeness of contacts (who’s one personal connection away, two away, and so on).

Drawbacks: There’s still not a lot of hard data to verify that using social networks leads to more sales than traditional cold calling.

Price: The basic version is free; a version with added support and administration is $20 per subscriber per month.

Source


Site of the Week: LinkedIn

April 23, 2007
     


LinkedIn is by far the most developed business- and career-oriented networking site and service out there; it’s the way millions of career-minded people will find their next jobs.


An efficient way to connect with an enormous reservoir of professionals from just about every industry. Easy-to-use search and filtering features. Lets you create a detailed professional profile others can search.

Dense, busy interface. May encounter promiscuous linkers.


LinkedIn Corporation
https://www.linkedin.com

The Web is teeming with social-networking sites that emphasize the “social,” but what if you’re a business-minded individual more interested in the networking end? Where do you go? The answer: LinkedIn. Since PC Mag‘s first serious look at the beta three years ago, the site has swelled to over 9 million registered users and become the most feature-rich business networking service of its kind.

I’m tempted to say it’s not only feature-rich, but feature-heavy. The sheer mass of capabilities takes a toll on the site’s looks—the interface is busy in the extreme. That all should change soon, however, as the company says a design refresh is coming in the next month or two. Though I’ve seen only one page of the redesign (it’s in our slideshow)

The service helps you make the most of your current professional relationships by letting you link with your closest work contacts, and that, in turn, can give you access to their contacts. I say “can” because you don’t automatically get to connect with everyone under the sun; part of the beauty and tantalizing nature of LinkedIn is that you get to see more than you directly have access to. While you can see the basics about people who are linked to one of your direct connections, you must first get an introduction, a referral from your direct connection vouching for you, before you can connect with them directly.

When you register, the site uses the information you enter to start your personal profile —basically an expanded curriculum vitae. You can (and should) add to it, though; you do this via a form that combines question-and-answer format with free-text entry. The quality of your profile heavily influences the results you get. The more fleshed-out it is the better, since members can search the site for others who have similar backgrounds, attended particular schools, have certain professional experience, worked at a particular company, and more. The rich detail that profiles can contain increases the chances of a search turning up people who can provide expertise and even career opportunities, often in industries far different from yours.

New LinkedIn Features

I find the features added since we last reviewed LinkedIn among the site’s most appealing and powerful. The Jobs/Hiring section powered by SimplyHired tops my list. Tools you access via the Find jobs tab in this section let you search for opportunities based on keywords that describe the type of position you want, and you can narrow your search geographically. Positions available through people in your network appear first in the results. Those who have jobs use the site to search for candidates or advertise openings (one of the main revenue streams for LinkedIn).

Another recently added (and highly useful) capability, LinkedIn Answers, gives you a great way to build your network without really trying. Questions you post go directly to the inboxes of contacts within three degrees of connection to you (you know someone who knows someone who knows them), and others can find your questions on the Answers pages. The tool should let you get valuable input without all the chatter and garbage that collects on sites such as Yahoo! Answers. I recently asked what PC Magazine‘s next Site of the Week should be, and within an hour, I had 4 solid responses; in three days, I’d received 13.

Another new feature, available within LinkedIn and from toolbars for Internet Explorer and Firefox, lets you upload your e-mail contacts from AOL, Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo! Mail. A Microsoft Outlook toolbar lets you upload its contacts also. For now, users of other software, such as the Palm desktop OS, will have to export their contacts to a webmail service, then upload them to LinkedIn. After I shipped 752 contacts to LinkedIn, the service told me that 259 of them were already using it. Not bad.

The new Reference search, which you reach via the People menu tab,) gives you a good way to find out about potential employees, employers, and business partners. Enter a company name and the years a person worked there, and you’ll be able to cross-reference this information with matches from your own network.

LinkedIn Lowlifes

Unfortunately, the free and open nature of LinkedIn, along with its search capabilities, can lead to abuse by what some call promiscuous linkers, people who compete to see who can build the largest networks. PC Magazine ran a column about the problem two years ago, in fact. Promiscuous linkers don’t really know you or even strongly connect to you with a single degree of separation, but they try to flatter and cajole you into adding them as direct connections, expanding their networks.

By failing to question whether warm and cold callers have strong connections to them, many kind-hearted members have inadvertently fostered this problem. Some shady operators even pretend they’ve met you or have some other connection. LinkedIn has built defenses against this sort of thing—for example, you can request that a mutual connection send a referral to you—but they still depend on honesty.

LinkedIn lets you easily report people you believe to be abusing it; the service will flag them and can limit their ability to send link invitations. Those squeamish about declining an invitation out-right can click on Decide later, so the other party won’t receive a notification of your rejection. And, of course, you can remove a connection if you think you made a mistake; the person won’t get a notification of that.

Various Versions

The free version of LinkedIn gives you an unlimited number of invitations from others to connect; you are also able to have five open invitations sent out at a time. You can receive InMails as a free member as well. InMails, as the name might suggest, are internal e-mails sent by premium members as a way to connect to any type of LinkedIn member directly.

There are also several LinkedIn premium packages: Business, for $19.95 monthly or $199.50 yearly; Business Plus, at $50 or $500; and Pro, which costs $200 or $2,000. The key differences among the levels are how much ability you get to perform searches beyond your own connections and network, and the InMail feature, which lets you directly contact other users from within the service. You can also purchase some features à la carte—if, for example, you want to contact someone not in your network, you can buy an individual InMail for $10.

Business class members can send 3 InMails per month, Plus users get up to 10, and Pro users up to 50. Similarly, premium accounts give you a wider net for search results as well. For instance, Business users are provided 100 results beyond those in their own network when they perform a search for something (names are not included, just a profile summary, you’d then use an InMail to make direct contact). Plus users get 150 additional results and Pro users 200.

Other important premium features include one-business-day customer support, unlimited reference searches, and OpenLink Network membership. These features would be of most benefit to hiring managers, recruiters, or companies doing a lot of hiring.

Does LinkedIn have competition? Yes and no. Ryze shares the ability to network with others, but has a much smaller user base (around 300,000) and fewer other options. Career Builder, HotJobs, and Monster compete in job-search capabilities, but lack the networking features. The major search engines compete on general searches for people, but the results lack the detail you get from LinkedIn. No other site or service provides everything under one umbrella.

Source
Visit LinkedIn
See slide show

LinkedIn (beta)

More of a well-heeled social club than a friendly free-for-all, LinkedIn is the most exclusive site we reviewed. This professional-oriented site is also the least likely to bother members with trivia. Like Ryze, LinkedIn targets business users, but at a higher level—meaning upper-echelon managers and executives.

A quick search of LinkedIn’s 40,000 members revealed over 700 VPs, over 140 CTOs, and over 500 CEOs; such stats might cause executive recruiters—or job seekers—to prick up their ears. If LinkedIn can maintain its cachet of exclusivity, it’ll be an impressive way to make important contacts for those in senior positions.

Mere mortals, however, aren’t likely to see this high-level A-list—at least not without a custom invitation from on high. LinkedIn’s stringent privacy policy is appropriate to its professional bent. The site does a good job of protecting its clients from public view, though you can opt to allow other users to contact you directly.

A more common option for beginners is to search for current and former colleagues and contacts already linked up to LinkedIn. A handy feature lets you compare your Outlook address book against a list of current members, expediting the process of inviting people from the outside and building your business network from the ground up.

LinkedIn has a no-nonsense, all-business user interface. There are no forums, specific listings for job opportunities, or extra content here (as with Ryze and Tribe.net) beyond statistics about your network, including percentages of users who fall into categories (like job seekers and hiring managers) and distribution by industry and geography.

LinkedIn gives you excellent control of searches by name, title, geography, and industry type. You’ll see only people in your network (those you’re linked to by a chain of friends), however, so it’s important that you cultivate connections. Once you locate a source, you can approach contacts about a job or other opportunity via a request page. In this beta version, users can have three outstanding requests at a time.

The governing principle is that persons of influence will be selective about passing along references, which are handed off to other contacts for approval. For three degrees of separation, you need two people to approve your request to approach a potential employer with a rèsumè, for example. When you sign in to your account, you’re informed of outstanding reference requests, which you can accept or reject. Should a request be rejected, the person who asked for it is never informed who rejected it. This decreases the chances that inappropriate requests will be simply rubber-stamped.

While there are no profile photos for LinkedIn members, testimonials in the form of endorsements from other members can add weight to user profiles. According to LinkedIn, such endorsements significantly increase the odds of making successful contacts. Favorite contacts can be stored in an address book, though unlike the other services, LinkedIn doesn’t have an extensive messaging system.

LinkedIn could change the way executive recruiting is conducted. As a general-purpose job site, it can undoubtedly work. And if you’re fortunate enough to gain entrèe to its elite client list, it’s a great resource for tapping venture capital, senior management, and technical expertise.