LinkedIn's getting down to business with a platform of free apps. Here's a hands-on look at what the first batch of those apps can do for you, from presentation help to travel tools.
By C.G. Lynch
The late October launch of LinkedIn’s application platform ushered in new capabilities for the social network aimed at professionals. LinkedIn decided to start small, adding a list of nine free applications aimed at boosting your productivity and sharing Web content.
We’ve tried out four of them so far. They have their proverbial pros and cons, but overall, they’re a good start in bringing more interactive content to the world’s largest business social network. In order to add one, simply go the left side of your LinkedIn home page and click on the “applications” link, which will take you to the LinkedIn application directory.
1. Google Presentation
Did you really crush that PowerPoint presentation you gave when you were on the road last week? Well, if your friends and colleagues missed it, they might ask you to e-mail it to them. Pretty soon, your email box fills up with .ppt attachments.
With Google’s Presentation App for LinkedIn, you can respond to those inquiries with a URL directing colleagues and others to your LinkedIn profile, where your slideshows will be embedded for everyone to see. The app, which appears on screen as a YouTube-sized widget, has easy click-through arrows, and the ability to change to a full screen.
Not a huge Google Apps person? Not to worry, Redmond-lovers, Google Presentations allows you to upload Microsoft Office PowerPoint presentations no problem.
2. Company Buzz
This LinkedIn-developed app strives to help you track your company’s image online. It’s also a fun app for all you gossipers out there looking to get the latest dirt on your company. It pulls in information about your company from two places. The first source: other LinkedIn users who post information to the business social network about the company. The other source: Twitter, the microblogging service that allows users to share short messages of 140 characters or less. Many companies have begun using Twitter to interact with customers.
In the screen shot below, you can see the company buzz for IDG, the parent company of CIO’s publisher. Here you see some updates from our sister publications, including MacWorld, and one from our friends at IDG Sweden.
Box.net is a service that allows you to store and share your files online. It brings a collaborative, utilitarian, let’s-get-some-work-done usefulness to LinkedIn. Via the service, you can share a plethora of documents, including Word, Excel, PDFs, video and other digital files with customers or co-workers, for example. To utilize the service, you’ll have to sign up for a Box.net account, which is free for up to 1 gigabyte of data.
A word of caution: while Box.net does have privacy settings that allow you to control who can access your files, it might be helpful to view your public profile on LinkedIn and check out the Box.net widget. Make sure you didn’t just share your new sales pitch with your competitors and the rest of the world. (Your IT admin would probably have an ulcer if he knew you were storing that document on Box.net anyway, but these things happen).
My Travel (by Tripit)
A nifty little app for you road warriors out there, My Travel lists your current location as well as any upcoming trips you have planned. Built by Tripit, a Web-based app that manages itineraries and your various travel plans, the LinkedIn app signs you up for a free account with the service. This app can be especially helpful for your LinkedIn connections who are wondering whether or not you’re in town (without having to send you an email or calling you in order to find out).
Once signed up, you can also follow other LinkedIn users who are using the My Travel app. This could be especially helpful if someone you know has a trip planned near wherever your company is headquartered and you want to plan a meeting while they’re in town.
If you view business travel as a badge of honor, then check out the stat page. Your Travel Stats, as it’s called, will track how many trips you’ve taken, miles you’ve traveled, days on the road, as well as cities and countries visited.
The drawback? Maybe you don’t want people knowing where you are at all times.