LinkedIn's New Free Apps, Part Two
In part one of our review of the LinkedIn applications platform, we looked at presentation, file sharing and travel applications that helped you collaborate with your fellow connections on the professional social network.
In this part two of the LinkedIn Apps Review, we chronicle the rest of them. You'll find some similarities to the apps in part one, and this is no accident: LinkedIn seemed intent on giving users choices based on their services of choice.
Amazon Reading List
The Amazon Reading List for LinkedIn is pretty straightforward: you share what you're reading with your LinkedIn connections. It starts by allowing you to search for a book title, such as, for example, "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy.
Once it pulls up the book you want, you can choose a status for it on your reading list. These status options include, "I read it," "I want to read it," or "I'm reading it now." If you click on "I read it," you also have the option to check off a box that says "I recommend it."
In addition to "Your Reading List," there are two additional tabs in the app: "Network Updates" and "Industry Updates." The first centers around books your connections are reading. You can follow specific people in your LinkedIn Connections list by clicking on the "Who's Watching Who" list.
The industry updates focus on books that relate specifically to your field that people on LinkedIn (using the Amazon Reading List) have read. This is particularly helpful if you're looking to keep up to date on your industry's critical reading.
Blog Link vs. Word Press blogging apps
There are two apps on the LinkedIn platform that allow you to share your blog. But of the two, Blog Link (made by the folks at Six Apart) certainly is more universally useful. It works for people who don't write blogs and only like to read them.
For those who do like to write blogs, Blog Link integrates with all the major blogging platforms, not just TypePad (the blogging platform by SixApart). It allows you to upload a variety of blogs based on the major platforms, including Movable Type, Vox, Wordpress.com, Wordpress.org, Blogger, LiveJournal, and others.
After you install the Blog Link app, it will cull your blog from whatever is listed in the "my blog" section of your profile (you can edit that URL by going to "accounts and settings" and clicking on "My Profile").
There are two main tabs: "By me," which is where you display your blog; or "My contacts," which shows the blogs of your connections. If you don't have a blog, the "by me" tab will simply be left empty.
The Wordpress blog app for LinkedIn, on the other hand, only works to share Wordpress-based blogs.
We recommend installing either of these blogging apps only if you yourself enjoy blogging. While Blog Link can be useful without a blog, you can easily get a feed of your favorite blogs via RSS, making a blogging app largely unnecessary.
Huddle allows you to upload any kind of file to the Huddle Widget box on your LinkedIn profile (provided you've installed the app). You can upload files up to 10 MB in size (beyond that, you need a Huddle.net account).
But Huddle for LinkedIn has pretty robust sharing capabilities. You can invite contacts to your Huddle workspace and have them upload files. You can also create discussions in the application as well.
As we noted in our first LinkedIn review regarding box.net - another file sharing application - we'd remind you to be careful what company files you share.
The SlideShare App for LinkedIn does something rather fun: it makes those PowerPoint presentations not only available for your connections to view, but it opens them up to discussions and comments.
We think this could be especially helpful before you give a presentation in person to a group. You could share a presentation with your connections and allow them to give you feedback via the comments section. For now, this makes it slightly more robust than the Google Presentations app for LinkedIn that we reviewed in part one, which lacks such a feature.
The only drawback to this is app that to realize most of its potential (such as embedding SlideShare presentations on other websites or your blog) you really need a SlideShare account. But on the upside, the SlideShare LinkedIn app allows you to sign up without ever leaving LinkedIn. And it's free.
This one is created by LinkedIn. Much like the staple Question and Answer section of LinkedIn, the polling app allows you to query your connections about some burning question you might have.
The main difference is the Polling app returns rich looking charts with their answers. If you're just looking to poll your connections, then the free version of this app might work well for you.
If you're looking for more robust capabilities, like, say, polling large groups within the LinkedIn user base, each response will cost you US$50 (minimum).