Can LinkedIn Hold On to Business Networking?

running behindAfter hearing LinkedIn's announcements of new features, I thought this image perfectly depicted their position. LinkedIn is way ahead, but Facebook and others are encroaching on LinkedIn's business networking turf. To "flank" Facebook and the numerous startup networks, LinkedIn has added the following features:

  • Facebook's feed - Possibly Facebook's greatest feature is it's mini-feed where the actions of your connections are displayed each day. It's so nice, MySpace copied it and now LinkedIn has too. Smart move as it's the best viral tool inside a network I've found.
  • Corporate news - They've partnered with Business Week to integrate news stories into your feed. They're also "scraping" in stories about companies. For example, if Jim worked at Dell and is your connection, you'll see news stories about Dell when you visit his profile. Not sure of the value there, but does save a quick online search.
  • Platform - If you're going to steal their feed, steal their the bigger idea and become a platform! Again, not a bad move, but as I understand it... they will allow people to build business (note: not for fun) applications using LinkedIn's data. I'm very interested in seeing what uses will be created.

I think these moves are in the right direction for LinkedIn, but execution (as always) will determine the success. I do think they are missing a few other key points, so here are a few ideas they should be embrace:

  • Lead generation - If LinkedIn could start matching my needs to service providers, I see an enormous upside for all parties. The only leads I've seen generated today are job leads.
  • Better interface - A common theme I hear about is how "clunky" everything is with LinkedIn. Their search isn't easy to use. Neither is setting up or managing a group. Interface sounds like an easy fix, but with a mature application, it's not.
  • User input - A major weakness of LinkedIn is the lack of ways to communicate with their company. One sign of a flourishing, active community is a conversation between the users and the product development team.

A combination of driving business and talking to their community would be a nice compliment to their "new" ideas.

Others talking about this topic: Jeremiah Owyang and Andy Beal.

Flickr photo credit: Ulan25