At the same time, the work the labs team is doing (particularly with InMaps; a visualization of your “professional graph”) is promising. Imagine how much more powerful an experience LinkedIn could be if that promise were more fully realized? If it were more visual, more appealing and made me smarter about myself and my relationships? What if LinkedIn were more social?
Part of the issue, in my opinion, is that there has never been a compelling reason to stay connected to LinkedIn throughout the day. For job search, yes. For looking up people I am going to meet or interview, yes. For connecting with people I’ve met at conferences, sure. The development team refers to this as the “coffee sessions” and the “couch sessions”–the spikes in usage they see as people plan out and then recap their day. But there’s never been more than a passing reason to stay connected.
I’m not going to tell you that an iPad app changes all that, but LinkedIn certainly benefits from letting its hair down. The desktop app is utilitarian, the smartphone app is transactional. But with LinkedIn for iPad, we get a taste of a more fluid, visual and relevant experience that not only serves data but starts to anticipate a bit of what we need as professionals in a contextually relevant way. “We wanted to build an app for how people specifically use the iPad,” said Joff Redfern, Mobile Product Head at LinkedIn. Given that the iPad is the fastest-growing device on LinkedIn (250% year over year, 2011 to 2012), this launch couldn’t come too soon.
The most compelling aspect of the app is the calendar.
How many times have you had a meeting on your calendar for which you had to prepare, and considered whether to look up the participants on Google or LinkedIn? How many times have you intended to do that but just haven’t had the time? (Be honest.) Now, if you give the app permission to access your calendar, it will pull in the LinkedIn profiles of the participants so you can start to get to know exactly whom you’re going to meet.
What I like about this is that I can do it at a coffee shop or in line at the drugstore, rather than having to block out time on my calendar…to plan my calendar. It’s a thoughtful way to provide relevance, and makes the best use of the time that I have and the real estate on the iPad.
Another element that I liked was the ability to see what my coworkers are sharing. Now, given that I work in a company of approximately 25 people, it’s not too hard to stay on top of this, but what if I worked in a company of 2,500? 25,000? That would be useful and relevant.
I’d like to see more of this kind of thinking–the notion of a quantified professional self–come to fruition with LinkedIn. Having that contextually relevant data available and visually presented at or before I need it would be a significant incentive to keep me connected throughout the day.