Business Networking Victory: LinkedIn or Facebook?

LinkedIn is smarter than a lot of people are currently giving them credit for. Compared to Ryze and some other business-focused social networks, they’ve put together a really well-developed site. I can’t blame them for being caught off guard by Facebook suddenly going from a college student network to the next hot business trend with platform potential.

For business networkers, the fate of LinkedIn vs. Facebook will depend on a few things:

  1. Facebook’s giving users the ability to display their profiles to people in different contexts. Professional contacts see one set of information, personal contacts see another.
  2. Facebook making an effort to actually make their service fit business uses. The “how do you know this person” options have been commented on a lot as an example of Facebook not having a clear idea of how professional relationships are distinguished from other kinds.
  3. LinkedIn’s ability to not only deploy a developer network, but make that network better for business uses than Facebook’s. That means creating special data sets and variables for things like places of employment, references, skills listed, etc.
  4. LinkedIn must deploy better group options. This is one of the few things Ecademy does better than LinkedIn, and they don’t even do it that well. The current options for creating LinkedIn groups are almost invisible. The most active user community discussions around LinkedIn are happening on Yahoo! mailing lists. When users have to go to a different service to talk with each other about your service, you’re doing something wrong.
  5. LinkedIn must not replace their old plan, they must integrate it with the new plan. I’m sure the old plan had things like getting partnerships with business-service companies, organizing real-world networking groups, and better developing the knowledge-sharing aspects of their site. Hopefully, those ideas have not been placed on the shelf while they focus on developing their online offerings to compete with Facebook. They can’t just be catching up, they need to get ahead. And to do that, they will have to work twice as hard. Tough. That’s what it takes.

This post is originally from a comment I made on Mashable.