LinkedIn Makes Its Move

Not long ago, before Facebook stubbed its toe, a lot of people were assuming LinkedIn was about to get buried by the upstart social network. I never thought that was likely, since the overlap between the two services’ offerings is relatively small (Facebook is mostly for socializing with people you already know, while LinkedIn is for meeting people you don’t know, for professional purposes, through people you do know).

On Monday, LinkedIn is making it clear that it’s far from a has-been.

In fact, Nielsen numbers recently showed LinkedIn growing at a faster rate than Facebook.(Full disclosure: BusinessWeek is now a partner with LinkedIn, more on that later.) For one, it's announcing a raft of new features. From the release:

A redesigned homepage – now in beta testing – with several customizable modules:

--The Answers module showcases what questions your network is asking, so that you can directly contribute to the network’s knowledge and perhaps ask a question yourself.

--The People module showcases the contacts you can make through your network (by using the connections of your connections).

--The Jobs module showcases the jobs and opportunities your network can help you with.

* LinkedIn News– now in beta testing – makes it easy for every professional to read the articles they need to read, by leveraging the power of their business connections. LinkedIn News starts by delivering news about key daily topics: a user's company, products, industry, and competitors, drawn from more than 10,000 publishers and blogs. Then, LinkedIn News uses the wisdom of each user's "crowd" of colleagues to determine the handful of articles that are the most important to their business -- the articles they need to read that day. LinkedIn News Beta is currently available to a select group of users, and will be expanded to all LinkedIn members in the new year.

LinkedIn also is announcing an "Intelligent Applications Platform" (yes, another social apps platform) that will let other sites use LinkedIn's APIs to build applications on their own sites and on LinkedIn itself. BusinessWeek is the first partner, though it likely won't be the only one. The BW piece isn't available yet. From the apps release:

LinkedIn’s Intelligent Applications platform is composed of two pieces: the ability to get LinkedIn into your application and the ability to get your application into LinkedIn.

LinkedIn partners will be able to build LinkedIn features into their applications, enabling LinkedIn users to access to their professional networks wherever and whenever they need it to accomplish professional tasks. Using a set of LinkedIn APIs and widgets, partner sites using the Intelligent Application Platform will be augmented with business networking features allowing the 17 million LinkedIn users to be more productive on those sites.

As for those rumors about News Corp. buying LinkedIn? Nye wouldn't comment directly, but notes, "It's all working well now. Why would we sell?" (LinkedIn is projecting it will have $75 million to $100 million in revenues next year.) That said, LinkedIn is clearly prickly about the competition from Facebook. And there are only so many social networks, personal or professional, that people will embrace with any kind of regularity. So the acceptance of these latest initiatives may well determine if LinkedIn is one of those chosen few.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.