LinkedIn is one of the most important online networks for professionals to join – it’s quite simply the foremost way to stay on top of business relationships. Having access to that network and all the details of your important relationships at your fingertips when en route to a meeting or while at a large conference is invaluable. The free LinkedIn iPhone app is an essential tool for business professionals no matter which industries are the core focus of their work – more so, I'd say, than the newer LinkedIn Contacts app.
The core LinkedIn app is very nearly as comprehensive as the website, giving you ways to add new contacts quickly and stay in sync with all the professional changes happening to the people who matter most. The only thing I really dislike is the inability to customise invitations sent to potential connections. I really hate sending a canned invite.
When first installed, the LinkedIn app asks if you want to sync LinkedIn with your contacts, an expected feature to be sure, and you can leave it set to off if you have any privacy concerns about giving LinkedIn too much access to your phone.
For a mobile app, LinkedIn for iPhone offers a surprising amount of functionality. It shows you just about everything you can find on the website: People who have viewed your profile (with some limitations in a free account), pending invitations to connect, jobs that might interest you and jobs for which you have already applied, recent changes and activity in your network, a news feed of updates, and more.
You can add custom shortcuts to some of these information gateways in the left-side tray that slides out when you tap the "in" icon at the top left. I like this customisation option a lot, although there are only nine possibilities, so putting them all into your tray isn't out of the question (in other words, why offer customisation when the full list isn't that long)?
I do like to keep an eye on people who have recently viewed my profile, however, and one of the shortcuts let me get to that information effortlessly.
LinkedIn recently added the ability to endorse people's skills to its mobile app, which helps the utility of the iPhone app better match what users do online with the full site (whether you think endorsements are worth anything is another matter).
As I’ve already mentioned, one feature that's still missing and is a big bone of contention for me is the inability to customise an invitation to connect. I use LinkedIn to both grow and maintain my professional network, and I really despise it when LinkedIn sends a canned email invitation on my behalf – always without letting me even preview what it's about to send.
On the full website, there is a way to customise invitations (although if you're not careful and invite someone the wrong way, they'll get the pre-written spiel – see tip 4 of my article on how to get more out of LinkedIn for details on how to make sure you send a customised invitation). However, in the mobile app, it's not even an option.
There’s another notable disparity between the full website and the mobile app: LinkedIn.com has a feature that lets you add media-rich content to your profile, like slideshows and videos. It's an awesome way to add more visual appeal to your profile. The app doesn't have these advanced editing tools, although they are more suited to being used on a full-sized computer rather than a mobile device anyhow.
These are pretty small points of contention in the grand scheme of things, though, and overall the LinkedIn app really does come in handy, especially in situations such as travelling to a meeting, and wanting to review someone's background, experiences, and affiliations before you meet with them.
LinkedIn remains one of the most important online networks for professionals to join, whether they're searching for a job or trying to actively stay informed of what's happening in the professional lives of people who matter.
The LinkedIn iPhone app is thorough, replicating most of the features of the website, and it's an essential app for just about everyone. Sure, a few details could use some tweaking, but they don't stop the number one professional network from being totally relevant to mobile users.