Raz Chorev | Socially Acceptable..
LinkedIn, Social media

Linkedin tools – Features or just gimmicks?

In the past few months, I’ve seen many innovation and new features coming out of Linkedin, and I’m not sure what to make of it. Some features I can understand the use of , such as Resume Builder, Signal, the browser toolbars on Chrome, IE & Firefox, and even the sharing button you can see on the top left hand corner of this blog post (PLEASE USE IT!).

I’m a bit puzzled when I see gimmicks like InMaps, NewIn ,Swarm & Infinity, which are cute to look at maybe once, but to me it is a waste of programmers time and effort.

Here is a list of their new (and newish) services – let me know what you think:

Features

Resume Builder:Resume Builder

and I wasn’t surprised to see LinkedIn create a resume builder that allows people to turn their LinkedIn profiles into Word and PDF resumes. It’s as easy as  picking a template, editing and arranging the information, and exporting and printing or sharing via email, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.

At the time of this post, there were over 19,000 Resume Builder users, and over 22,000 resumes,  but as more people become aware of this feature, I think the number will increase rapidly. You can give it a try by clicking on the image below. As long as you completely fill out your LinkedIn profile as you would a resume, you don’t have to worry about saving your resume on your computer or on flash drives – your resume can live in the LinkedIn cloud.

 

Infinity

LinkedIn Infinity is a visualization of your professional network that was built using the LinkedIn Javascript APIs. Linkedin Infinity

Once you sign in (by clicking the “Sign in with LinkedIn” button) you can click and drag on the wall to navigate through your contacts, zoom in and out, and search by name, title or status update.

Things to Try

  • Click and drag anywhere on the wall to navigate forward or backward
  • You can also use the blue scrollbar on the bottom to navigate
  • Use the mouse wheel to zoom in and out
  • Use the magnifying glass in the lower right to search. You can search by name, job title, or status update. For example, try searching for “software” or “finance”.
  • Hover over each thumbnail to get a quick view of the name and status
  • Click on each thumbnail to see details about each connection
  • In the detail view, click the left and right arrows at the bottom to navigate, or click the X in the upper right to return to the overview.
  • Click the icon below the X to go to the full profile view

 

Signal

LinkedIn’s Signal certainly isn’t new, but it is one of the most powerful services they’ve released.Signal

Signal allows you to filter and browse only relevant status updates from your LinkedIn and Twitter streams. You can target updates from colleagues, competitors, etc., and narrow or expand your view based on the following filters: Network, Industry, Company, Time published, Location, School or just most popular hash tags.

You can also search for keywords, topics or people across the stream of network updates, and tap into an auto updated real-time stream of filtered content. Additionally, you can save your real time searches for quick and easy access.

Imagine saving searches to allow you to check in every day and see a real-time stream of updates from every employee in your company. Or, perhaps even better, a competitor!

Signal also mines all the shared links on status updates and shows you the most popular links, many of which are the hottest news stories on that topic, updated to the minute, and you can see who’s shared any of those Trending Links.

Toolbars and extentions:

Chrome

If you use Google’s Chrome browser (I do), you may be interested in being able to integrate LinkedIn directly into the browser,ChromeIn
giving you the ability to share things on LinkedIn and give you easy access to your LinkedIn updates at anytime.

Internet Explorer & Firefox

In addition to giving you access to LinkedIn’s JobsInsider, the IE and Firefox browser toolbars allow you to:

  • See LinkedIn profiles or everyone sending you Web email
  • Quick search LinkedIn from anywhere
  • Look up people on LinkedIn instantly from any website
  • Search for names, titles, companies, and job postings
  • Save searches for the future
  • Have quick and easy one-click access to LinkedIn
  • Save and return to LinkedIn profiles of interest

Google Toolbar

LinkedIn offers a Google toolbar that allows you to:Google Toolbar

  • Optimize your Google Toolbar by installing the LinkedIn search button
  • Share any web page with your friends right from the Toolbar
  • Contribute and read helpful information on any web page with Google Sidewiki
  • Translate web pages instantly with automatic language detection.

Lotus Notes toolbar

With the LinkedIn widget for Lotus Notes, you can:Lotus Widget

  • Get your email and LinkedIn updates all in one place
  • Quickly learn more about people who send you email
  • Search for people you want to contact and work with
  • Share your status, see what your connections are working on

Sharing Bookmarklet

With LinkedIn’s sharing bookmarklet, you can share webpages with your professional network and groups straight fromSharing Bookmarklet
your browser even when you’re not on LinkedIn. All you have to do is find interesting articles/content, click on “share on LinkedIn”
from your browser toolbar, add a comment to put your own spin on it, and choose who you want to share it with.

 

LinkedIn share button

Now, with just a few lines of code, publishers, bloggers, and businesses can easily include a button on their site that lets readers and Linkedin share buttonsvisitors “Share on LinkedIn”.

Email Signatures

Although they’ve been around for quite some time, I still encounter people who ask me “how did you get that LinkedIn signature?”

You can create a customized LinkedIn email signature by going here and configuring the layout and the information – it’s very easy and intuitive, and they’re claimed to be supported by Outlook, Outlook Express, and Thunderbird. My personal experience is that Outlook DOESN’T support HTML Signatures. Correct me if I’m wrong!

Of course, you can also promote your profile with customized buttons that you can include in your email signatures and elsewhere. I regularly get requests asking how to create them. They are a little difficult to find, because the link to them is hidden in a link on your public profile page of your LinkedIn settings.

Create Email SignatureMobile Apps

Linkedin is now available (and has been for a while) on mobile platforms as an app. Apps available on iPhones, BlackBerry, and Androids. From my own experience, the iphone app is the most comprehensive (usability and features). As a  Blackberry user, I’m quite limited with the way I can use my Linkedin app. I have not seen the Android or the Palm versions yet.

The apps can be downloaded from the app store, app world, and app market. Links can be found here

Linkedin Mobile

Job InSider

JobsInsider is a tool that comes with the LinkedIn Browser Toolbar for either Internet Explorer or Firefox.
It automatically appears as a browser pane when you search for a job outside of LinkedIn. The LinkedIn JobsInsider helps increase your chances of being hired by:

  1. Identifying people in your network or groups that work at the company posting the job.
  2. Offering the option to request Introductions to hiring managers and get your resume to the right person.

JobsInsider currently works with Monster®, CareerBuilder®, HotJobs®, Craigslist®, Dice®, Vault®, and more.

To download one the toolbars listed above, click on “Tools” at the bottom of any LinkedIn page. The JobsInsider preferences can be set to show when browsing a known job site and/or to appear upon browser startup.

I’ve tried to install it on my laptop, and it didn’t work. Maybe because I’m in Australia, and the programs only works with US based job boards. Or is it just me?

Gimmicks?

Instant Search

Quite self explanatory – LinkedIn Instant Search allows you to instantly search your LinkedIn network.

Check it out:

Instant Search

 

Swarm

Although LinkedIn’s official description of Swarm is “an eerily beautiful visualization of popular company search queries on LinkedIn,
I’ve seen popular title searches, most recent LinkedIn blog posts, most shared news, and recent jobs posted on LinkedIn.

Oh, and the terms are all clickable so you can explore them in LinkedIn.

Swarm

NewIn

LinkedIn now boasts over 90M members worldwide, and people join LinkedIn at a rate of 1 per second.

If you want to see what that looks like, all you have to do is have Google Earth installed and click here.

NewIn could be great when delivering workshops or training sessions – it certainly provides some “wow factor”  because it’s one thing to SAY that a new member joins LinkedIn every second, and another entirely to SEE  it.

NewIn

 

InMaps

InMaps is an interactive visual representation of your professional universe that answers all of the above questions.  It’s a great way to understand the relationships between you and your entire set of LinkedIn connections. With it you can better leverage your professional network to help pass along job opportunities, seek professional advice, gather insights, and more.

Here’s how it works: your map is color-coded to represent different affiliations or groups from your professional career, such as your previous employer, college classmates, or industries you’ve worked in. Here’s where it gets interesting. Your map is actually a view into how your professional world has been created over time. To get a sense of how that’s true, label each cluster (color) and explore your connections to see who are the major bridges on your map. You can use those insights to measure your own impact or influence, or create opportunities for someone else. So, you might see two distinct groups that you could introduce to become one. Or, you might leverage one person to connect them to someone else.

InMaps

Is this useful, or gimmicky? I haven’t decided yet.

 

Social Share Counters
  • http://www.iGo2Group.com Michael Green

    Thanks Raz – a fantastic summary of #LI technologies!

    • http://www.razchorev.com Raz Chorev

      I’m glad you liked it!
      Thanks!

  • http://www.unhub.com/waynemansfield Wayne Mansfield

    Raz

    Love the look of your web… very nice

    I am finding that as soon as I learn 1 thing on LinkedIn they change it, and not always for the better. I tried to post a question to Answers on Sunday and it didn’t and still hasn’t shown up yet I got a couple of answers… and I am no dummie.

    I would like them to return some of the previous functionality before they race off on stuff that not many people asked for and even fewer have a need for.

    However, what LinkedIn really needs is many more Evangelists like you and Vincent Wright before you so that people l; like me can get the full potential of LinkedIn working for us.

    Keep up the good work.

    • http://www.razchorev.com Raz Chorev

      Thanks for your comment, Wayne. I think we’ve grown to expect these website to be faultless, and just expect them to work! We seem to forget sometimes (and I’m jumping to defend Linkedin here) that these websites started very small, as an experiment, yet within a very short period of time, they’ve grown to accommodate such vast amount of data and activity, that bugs are sometime inevitable. However, and that was my point – I think developers’ time would have been put to better use in fixing the bugs in the system, and make it faultless, before heading off to create “visualization tools”, and other novelties.

  • Yuval

    Thanks Raz,
    Some of these tools are quite useful and others are niche useful thus making it a gimmick to others.
    These tools though give LinkedIn a set of utilities that support a large set of requirements, the problem is that they are not putting the tools out in front the users.
    Hope your post will do the job they should have.

    • http://www.razchorev.com Raz Chorev

      Yuval, some of the tools I’ve mentioned, are regarded as “experiments” in the Linkedin Labs. Like GoogleLabs, LinkedIn employees get some time off to go and develop their own staff, which sometime get to feature in their labs, and sometimes even mentioned on their blog.
      The most successful features, I find, do come up in front of users, in a form of a pop up window, or a Linkedin update email.
      I tend to agree that they need more evangelists like me :)

  • http://www.uxcconnect.com.au Iggy Pintado

    Raz

    Thanks for this most informative post. You saved me some time reviewing each of these “features” myself!

    If, as you point out Linkedin is following the Google model of developing apps as value added features to their core offering, then we all know what’ll happen. The features that everyone uses the most – in this case Resume Builder – will get more developer resource attention and the ones that don’t get traction, will be marginalized. Exhibit A is Google Wave – great applet but it didn’t catch on so… “wave goodbye”. Some of these apps are destined to go the same way.

    Thanks again, Iggy

    • http://www.razchorev.com Raz Chorev

      Thanks for the comment, iggy. I agree with your view that some of these features are destined to be discarded, as per the your Wave example.

  • Hayley Dean

    Hey Raz

    Thanks for your note. To be honest, once Linkedin started being treated like an additional spam outlet, I switched off altogether.

    Now I know you will be upset with me but I am a firm believer in that it should be used to highlight your professional history and ability. I really get annoyed when people I don’t know send me requests (and spam me with info on their biz).

    I am there, but I am no longer an active user and can honestly say, that I have now disengaged so much that it really doesn’t matter how many new features they add.

    I do admire your passion for the platform though. Keep up the awesome work.

    HD

  • http://latinocean.com jorge

    You might also want to compare notes with a recently published LI features run down done by Glen Cathey a few days earlier http://www.booleanblackbelt.com/2011/01/18-linkedin-apps-tools-and-resources/

    Back to your point, i’d say the resume builder feature could be the most significant one, in as much as in can enable a fairly straight forward LI integration with back end/ recruitment management systems

    cheers
    j

    • http://www.razchorev.com Raz Chorev

      Hey Jorge,
      Great post by Glen Cathey! We must be subscribed to the same Linkedin blog 😉
      BTW, he mentioned in his post, that it would be great to have a “apply with your Linkedin profile” feature. SEEK.com.au came up with something similar a while back which is a combination of Resume Builder, and “apply with your Linkedin profile” http://tinyurl.com/49665rf . (See my tweet from last year) .
      I just wish Linkedin members will start taking their online CV (if that’s all they use Linkedin for) more seriously, which will help everybody!

  • http://twitter.com/AskTonyIT Tony Hollingsworth

    I’ve looked at Signal and InMaps, and love them! LinkedIn deserves to be congratulated for their innovation. I’ve seen them go from resume listing when I first joined to full blown professional search tool for opportunity, connection, learning and sharing. Signal is exactly what I need: I’ve worked hard building a strong network that can now add even more value as I filter out the noise and get to the information I need. This is “digital curation” in action for me.

    InMaps for me was fascinating as I’ve always wondered what proportion of my network comes from where and the map plus custom colour labels let me uncover this, and I can decide where in m network I get most value at any point in time. Fantastic.

    I haven’t looked into the other items yet. Stay tuned!

    Thanks Raz, good summary.

    • http://www.razchorev.com Raz Chorev

      Hey Tony, thanks for your comment. Now that you’ve experimented with InMaps – how often do you see yourself checking your network out in the future? would it be a tool you’ll likely to use again?

  • http://snapwebmarketing.com Karri Flatla

    The thing with LinkedIn (you can throw rotten tomatoes at me if you want for this!) is that it feels a bit redundant because I just have my twitter stream feed into my LI profile. I still log in about once a week to check my inbox and review invites to connect, but overall I’m still struggling to get into a groove over there. It lacks that real time feel of twitter/facebook.

    So many of the conversations are just people trolling for free content for their own sites or for work. Bleh.

    That said, I’m trying to be focused with the Groups I join and then see if there’s opportunity for meaningful discussion.

    LI still feels more geared to corporate than entrepreneurland, but I’m willing to keep testing 😉

    Thanks Raz!
    Karri

    PS: I’m definitely going to check out the ability to add a WP plugin which will be interesting to test.

    • http://www.razchorev.com Raz Chorev

      Karri – ou’re right. Linkedin is definitely geared more towards corporates, but there are still opportunities for entrepreneurs to use it, very successfully.
      For example:
      1. Some entrepreneurs still need to sell to corporates, right? Isn’t it a great resource, to find the right people to talk to, bypassing the “gate keepers”?
      2. Entrepreneurs, at various stages, will need to engage service providers, and hire people, right? Is there a better place to find these people, particularly when you can have your network to recommend them?
      3. I use Linkedin to keep in touch with EVERYBODY I meet with in a business setting. They can work in a ABC company today, in one capacity, and be useless to me. Tomorrow, they can get a promotion, or move to a different company, in a more senior role, and now can really help me in my business.
      4. The essence of the network, is not just who is connected to you. It’s also who they are connected to, and who they know. To be a successful entrepreneur, the most important thing is (regardless of your product, service, or business acumen) is how many people know about you. Expending your circle of influence becomes a lot more manageable with Linkedin.
      (consider the above *throwing rotten tomatoes”….) :)

      Linkedin is not supposed to be another Twitter or Facebook. Although it is regarded as a social media or social networking platform, the thought process of the users should be completely different. IMHO…

  • http://www.magnoliasolutions.com.au Nancy Georges

    thanks Raz
    I am going to canvas these tonight at Social Media Women – we are talking about LinkedIn :-)

  • Danielle Uskovic

    Raz, thanks for sharing your expertise on LinkedIn. Really good quality content. My company is currently exploring new ways to use linkedin and this information will help

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