Poll: How Do You Use LinkedIn?

By Josh Catone
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Business social network LinkedIn announced that they’ve turned on their OpenSocial-powered web applications platform. The site is keeping the focus strictly on business and productivity applications, and will only approve developers to even begin creating an application for the platform if their pitch meets those goals. “We are looking for applications that provide clear business utility to LinkedIn users. LinkedIn is not a place for sheep throwing,” says the page where developers can apply to gain access to the platform.

LinkedIn is initially launching with 9 applications, from partners including Google, Huddle, TripIt, Amazon, SlideShare, WordPress, SixApart, and Box.net. The apps range from a book recommendation sharing widget from Amazon, to a travel planning app from TripIt.

Perhaps the most useful launch application, from a business user standpoint, is the in-house developed Company Buzz application, which tracks buzz on Twitter around your company or competitors.

What all of these applications have in common, though, is that they assume users want to use LinkedIn as a sort of business start page. Is that actually how people use LinkedIn? Or do people use LinkedIn as an address book where they file away their internal and external business contacts? Personally, I have only every used LinkedIn for the latter, or for research about the business associations of specific people.

“My bet is that most users will opt to use the ‘pimp my profile’ type of apps first, as they require much less work to implement and fall very much within the site’s original utility of helping to attract recruiters,” writes social networking expert Steve O’Hear. “In comparison, the productivity apps require a slight shift in how users conceptualize LinkedIn, where the site moves from being a glorified rolodex to become a kind of productivity portal or start page that conveniently ties web-based apps to your existing social graph.”

Keeping the focus strictly on business and productivity may help LinkedIn avoid the noise that has led to app fatigue on Facebook and MySpace, but will users even utilize applications on LinkedIn? Applications only make sense if LinkedIn can convince people that they should start living in LinkedIn — not just visiting when they need to grab someone’s contact information and find out where they worked in the past. How do you use LinkedIn? Let us know in the comments below and by voting in our poll.

[poll id=8]

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  • Anonymous

    I use it as more than a rolodex but less than a communication tool. This is more like a “live” resume where you can daily show off your work / experience, while at the same time showing off who you’re working with (e.g. VIP’s, companies, etc.).

    I didn’t vote because I didn’t see any options related to that use case.

    It’s not a rolodex.
    It’s not a communication tool.
    It’s not a front page.

    It’s a Web 2.0 resume :)

  • Sean Tierney


    Like the previous commenter, I use it as a resume (passive, display, me).
    But I also use it to get to people I can’t find via the web (active, research, hunting others).
    I got us into two private Google betas for products we really wanted (GWO and PPA programs) before they were public by identifying the key person and approaching him via the “inMail” service. I think from the contacted person’s perspective, getting a blind solicitation via email vs. via LinkedIn where you can judge the credibility of the solicitor – you’re more likely to engage with the latter. As the solicitor, it allows you to accumulate and display the rapport you’ve developed.

    Other ways we’ve used it: we posted job listings for two positions and had 60+ applicants for each. Given there was a chain of personal connection for each applicant I was able to ask for references and quickly evaluate who was worth meeting.

    I’ve also seen our own product mentioned repeatedly in the “Answers” section and it’s good to be able to jump in and provide clarification there. And it’s also had the “reconnect with old friends” serendipity effect too of putting me back in touch with former colleagues and classmates.

    Those are the main ways I use it. The new apps make sense with the “pimp my resume” thought in mind. Personally though I hope they don’t chase Facebook with trying to make it so there’s a ton of drivel and low-quality interaction on there. I would like to see it remain as a high-quality set of interlinked resumes with a low level of noise (too much social media fatigue from twitter/FB). I’ve been paying for their premium service the past 2yrs because those rare times when I need to find the right person, it’s been invaluable.


  • im on it, but dont use it that much…

  • Ian M

    I have had a linked in account for years and have still not seen any value in it. I am a professional software developer with a medium-to-large professional network yet still I feel that LinkedIn is an answer to a question that has not been asked.

  • Dorsey

    I agree with Ian M. Maybe LinkedIn hasn’t yet reached the critical mass necessary for it to be useful in a general sense, especially since LinkedIn is only a specialized version of MySpace or Facebook.

    I’ve been on LinkedIn for a few years now, and have recently been contacted by people I’d known many years ago, and we used LinkedIn to catch up. I also had a few promising job leads that didn’t pan out, maybe because one and only one person contacted me. To be fari, my job interest was very specific, and this one individual had exactly what I was looking for.

  • Former User

    I used to use LinkedIn for keeping in touch with professional contacts, but in the long run it seemed pointless — networking for the sake of networking without any real return on the time investment. I got out and haven’t looked back.

  • duktu

    checkout how not to use Linkedin @