OK so we are all used to the new user interface now - hopefully you agree with me that it is largely an improvement, despite requiring a few more clicks in some areas I think it is generally tidier and easier to use. This year is likely to see many more changes - the integration with MS Outlook 2010 looks very interesting, I have been using Outlook Toolbar for some while which I often describe as LinkedIn's 'Hidden gem' (quite why they keep this feature hidden away under 'tools' at the bottom of the page is a mystery to me!) and the Outlook integration would appear to take this a step further. As a Blackberry user I am also excited by the propspect of a LinkedIn app' although the delay in releasing this is proving to be quite frustrating - I just hope it will be worth the wait! The most dramatic change last year was the release of their API (Application Programming Interface) - this means that 3rd party developers will be able to integrate their products with LinkedIn - unlike most other platforms, LinkedIn has traditionally been very cautious about allowing this in the past. So what does this mean in real terms?
Initially we have seen a few well known products such at Hootsuite and Tweetdeck able to show LinkedIn status updates in their feed along with Tweets from Twitter. This is quite useful but if you have a lot of connections it starts to lose value as you are probably only really interested in seeing the updates from a relatively small percentage of your connections. Further developments though by these or other products could start to become a lot more interesting. Imagine a situation where you could 'group' your connections and manage status update alerts as follows;
- Colleagues - past and present
- Target customers
- Thought leaders
Now image using a product like Tweetdeck and having it alert you every time a status update is posted by one of these groups (ie target customers) add to this the opportunity to see more than status updates - profile changes (such as moving jobs, promotion etc) as well as application activity - the opportunities are endless and allow us the potential to use 3rd party tools to filter information from our LinkedIn network (1st tier anyway). This is potentially a very powerful tool.
This should all be possible when LinkedIn release their new 'Connection Tag' feature to all users. I am currently testing this and it is really useful (especially when you consider the above opportunities). This video demonstrates what this new feature is all about;
So with this we can organise our connections into focussed groups and with developers using the API to good effect we could then start to find ways of really leveraging our LinkedIn network - very exciting!
Lets hope it is not long before this is possible - watch this space for more news on this.