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Would LinkedIn Benefit from a Chat Feature?
Posted on July 21st 2011
I 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?