Would LinkedIn Benefit from a Chat Feature?

Mary Wieder
Mary Wieder-Bottaro Global Marketing Consultant, CROS NT & ARITHMOS

Posted on July 21st 2011

ImageI posted before about LinkedIn and its potential to help small businesses. In terms of social media, I find LinkedIn to be the best outlet for making personal connections in business development. When I return from events or conferences, I immediately search for new contacts on LinkedIn to learn more about their position within their company and try to make a connection.

But, what if we could then chat with our connections in real time?

Sure, I could try to search for my contacts on Facebook or Skype, but it's time consuming and (1) not all companies install Skype for their employees and (2) I've discovered that most people will use their personal email addresses for a Facebook account and their work email for LinkedIn, making them difficult to find via Facebook. 

Here are some benefits to implementing a Chat feature on LinkedIn:

1. BUSINESS DONE QUICK.

Maybe you have a quick question for one of your connections or want to schedule a meeting. Sending a quick chat message is a lot easier and saves time. 

2. GEOGRAPHY BOUNDARIES

In today's global economy, you may find yourself doing business with people for New York to Tokyo. With a LinkedIn Chat feature you could see when your global colleagues and clients are online, arrive at work and when they are available to chat with you. It may save a phone call and an email that could get lost in the morning's workload.

3. INTRODUCE YOURSELF.

Business deals are all about getting on a personal level with your potential clients. So ok, you've made the connection on LinkedIn. Now take a minute to introduce yourself in real time. It's the digital age, online chatting is perfectly acceptable now in the office. 

4. MAKE GROUP DISCUSSIONS REAL-TIME DISCUSSIONS

I have seen some great debates going on in group forums. What if people could discuss issues facing their business in real time? 

Sure, there are possible risks to implementing a Chat feature on LinkedIn. One could argue Privacy - getting unsolicited messages from people trying to sell something. However, there could be "Go offline" options to chat, and there is always the choice to not accept an invitation to connect if you do not know the person requesting. 

There is also the possibility of promoting "slacking off" at work. Employees could use the chat feature to talk with other colleagues or friends about non-work related matters. But then again, slacking off is always an office program. Social media behavior needs to be explained and managed.

Overall, I believe a LinkedIn Chat feature could only enhance the functionality of this social media site. While the overall strategy of LinkedIn is "professional" social media, adding a Chat feature is simply providing users with a strategic business tool - communication. To provide a similar case, SalesForce added a "Chatter" feature to its network to promote communication among licensed users.

Perhaps LinkedIn should "Poll" people and ask what they think of a potential Chat feature?

 

Mary Wieder

Mary Wieder-Bottaro

Global Marketing Consultant, CROS NT & ARITHMOS

Mary is a Business Development & Marketing Associate located in Verona, Italy. She has been developing a career in international marketing and communications and B2B marketing for more than 8 years. Her experience includes developing marketing strategies and social media campaigns for the B2B marketing environment, small businesses and start-ups, and she has worked in the U.S., France, Australia and Italy. She offers marketing consultancy as well as business translations from Italian to English. Mary holds a Masters degree in Global Communications from the American University of Paris and a Marketing degree from Lehigh University and speaks English, Italian and French. She is an avid blogger, runner and Yankees fan.

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Comments

I agree that chat could have its place on LinkedIn.  My main apprehension about endorsing it is not knowing the proper "business etiquette" with chatting.  When I'm logged into facebook, gchat, or AIM I'm only there for social purposes.  When I'm using LinkedIn at work to build legitimate business connections, I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable reaching out via chat. Not against the idea, just want to see how "chat" develops more in the business environment.

-Grayson

I would think that a LinkedIn chat feature would eliminate much of the professional atmosphere of the site. 

 

A chat feature COULD be used in a professional way, but I am afraid that this feature would be used in aggressive spam-quality communication.

 

Limiting the feature to strictly personal 1st connections would seem to be an easy fix for this particular issue.

Yes, I agree that the chat feature should be reserved for first degree connections. 

But I think the chat feature is becoming a bigger part of the business environment, just in the past 5 years. It may even be a cultural thing as well. When I worked in the U.S. until 2007, features like Skype were considered time wasters. Since moving to Europe in 2008, I have seen my employers encourage chatting between colleagues and business partners. Now I am on Skype all day long with our colleagues in Germany and the UK and our business partners. Perhaps the chat feature between "potential" clients is still in development. 

Hello Mary, thank you for the great article!

LinkedIn is a wonderful tool when it comes to expanding your professional network, but it certainly lacks a lot of social network features. That's why I thought we can use LinkedIn API and provide a free service to LinkedIn users to keep in touch with their colleagues.

It's a great pleasure to announce that we created CubiTalk. www.cubitalk.com is a website that allows users to sign in with their LinkedIn accounts and chat with their connections. Even if your connections are not yet using CubiTalk (or are not online at the moment), you can still send them offline messages. Cubitalk will deliver Offline messages to their LinkedIn inboxes.

CubiTalk is still beta, so please excuse us if the user interface doesn't look slick. There might be some issues, so I would appreciate if you provide me your feedback. CubiTalk is using some advanced HTML 5 features and is only available on:
Internet Explorer 10
Safari 6.0.1
Chrome 22.0
Firefox 16.0.2

Enjoy using CubiTalk and stay tuned for next round of cool features!

If you'd like to chat on the desktop browser feel free to try the Chrome extention we released, called LinkedIM ( I know, it's a play on words :P ). 

Although the project is still experimental we are willing to support it and extend it with more features if there is a positive response from the LinkedIn community. 

Originally created as part of a Makesites Hackathon 


Hi Mary,

We appreciate you for the great article!

We launched the LinkedIn Chat App and for the moment its availble on iOS and Android but very soon it would  be availble for Blackberry,Windows and Web App as well.

To stay in touch with your colleagues and Professional Network, without being attached to your computer all you need is the LinkedIn Chat. This app allows you to chat with all your LinkedIn Connections on the go effortlessly.

Port your entire LinkedIn network into one mobile app so you can chat instantly with them.
With InChat App You can get in touch with your LinkedIn connections automatically without looking for them.

LinkedIn Chat App Features:

  • Send and receive offline messages
  • Instant chat with your Linkedin Connections who have INCHAT app installed
  • push notification to alert incoming message
  • Message will be saved in server when user offline.
  • Easy to sync new contacts
  • Support multiple languages
  • Check the update and profile of your connections
  • InChat is a cross-platform mobile Instant messaging app which allows you to send instant messages to your LinkedIn Connections.