LinkedIn, the professional contact social network, is somewhat in the shadow of its much more visible rivals Facebook, Myspace or – recently – Twitter. For business users LinkedIn is in my opinion the strongest public social network tool I can think of. I also tried out XING, its German rival, but dropped it after finding little other than job seekers in it. LinkedIn on the other hand becomes a very very strong tool once you have 100+ or so contacts as you can then get in contact via InMail with many people that you might want to do business with. And with every new contact you sign on the network grows exponentially. What most people don’t know is that LinkedIn was started also by a German: Konstantin Guericke. Recently LinkedIn has been trying to also include more social communication features such as e.g. a status line on what you are working on.
I think they could easily also include more of what Facebook and Twitter have to offer and with that get the network growing some more. One key difference is that LinkedIn are far less willing to share their API with developers; this may be a benefit in some ways but it does limit the ways that LinkedIn can be tied into the user’s life. Another way they might expand is that they could start a LinkedIn Junior or something like that to attract younger folks as well. But whichever way you look at it, LinkedIn is a big success story and all the folks who have been involved deserve a lot of respect.