LinkedIn goes mobile

Beta lets users access professional networking site from Internet-enabled mobile devices

LinkedIn is taking its professional social networking site mobile. The company Monday is launching a beta version of a new site that will allow users to look up profiles of other users and keep up to date with their network from mobile devices.

The new LinkedIn Mobile offering is available to any user with an Internet-enabled mobile device. While the company initially sent out invitations to specific users to participate in the beta, Brandon Duncan, LinkedIn's director of engineering, noted that any user can now test the site.

The company also launched a customized beta version of the mobile product for iPhone users.

The impetus behind creating a mobile version of LinkedIn has been the 100,000 users who are accessing the original site from a mobile device each month, Duncan said.

Initial features available on the mobile version will allow users to search and view profiles and invite new connections into their networks without having to know the e-mail addresses of invitees. Such capabilities will help users identify people they are meeting for the first time, by having access to their photos and profiles, Duncan added.

Eliminating the requirement that a mobile user know an e-mail address to send an invitation will help users to more quickly expand their networks, he said.

'[Now] unless you get a person's business card or you happen to remember their e-mail address, you're going to have to remember to go back later and invite that person to your network," Duncan noted.

The mobile version will also let users get and act on updates from people in their network. For example, if a user gets a notice about a new job posting, he can immediately forward that posting to someone who may be a good fit for the job, Duncan noted.

Future versions of LinkedIn Mobile will be optimized for BlackBerries, Treos and other popular devices. LinkedIn also plans to provide mobile access to its LinkedIn Experts and Answers, which would allow users to track down an expert while traveling. For example, a user visiting Tokyo on business could find an attorney recommended by other users to help with a specific type of contract or find a certain kind of restaurant when traveling to another locale.

Also, within the next few weeks, the mobile version will add one-to-one messaging capabilities to allow users to send a message from a mobile device to another LinkedIn user's e-mail address -- even if the user doesn't know the address, Duncan said. Eventually, the company would like to support SMS messaging, he added.

The beta will be available in English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese, with additional languages to follow, according to LinkedIn.

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