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TECHNOLOGY

App Brings Location Awareness to LinkedIn

Knowing where your business connections are in the real world can be a boon to networking. Here's the app LinkedIn is missing.
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Pick up your smartphone and tap around inside your LinkedIn app. You know what it's missing? Location awareness, that's what.

It's a weird omission because LinkedIn is all about making business connections. You'd think that knowing where these people are in the real world--if they opted into such a feature, that is--would be handy. What if you could see, for example, that a high profile connection was in your town for a convention? You could invite her to coffee or offer to bring her out to a local hot spot. Who knows what might evolve out of such networking?

There's an App for That

The good news is there's a new iPhone app that lets you not only see where LinkedIn connections are and send them text messages, but you can use it to check into events, as well.

It's called Here On Biz and it's free at the Apple App Store. After downloading it, you just need to give it permission to access your LinkedIn account.

From there, it's slick.

You can see how many of your LinkedIn connections also are using the app, as well as people near you using it who aren't yet connections. If they look interesting, you can request a connection with one tap.

There's also an "Indulge" tab that will recommend local establishments and offers near you, although at least where I'm located there isn't anything in there--yet. As more people use Here On Biz, my guess is this part of the app will fill in.

Location Sharing That Isn't Creepy

I used the app to ping Nicholas Smoot, the company's co-founder and CMO, who answered my questions via text message. He suggested I let my LinkedIn network know I was using the app so as to get more people engaging with me and sharing their locations.

About that... not everybody is going to be keen on sharing their whereabouts with others, even if doing so could somehow benefit their careers.

What's cool about Here On Biz, though, is it never actually reveals a precise address or venue like other location-aware apps sometimes do. Right now, it's just tells others in my network who also use Here On Biz that I'm somewhere in my small town. If I were in a cosmopolitan area, it would disclose only the neighborhood or suburb.

It's worth checking out. While critics may debate the usefulness or engagement on other social platforms, LinkedIn seems to be increasingly admired for its utility.

As my fellow Inc. columnist Geoffrey James writes, "LinkedIn's beauty is that it's dull but functional-like email and the telephone."

Here On Biz makes it less of the former and more of the latter.

Smoot says iPad, Android, and Windows Phone versions will be coming at some point.

Last updated: Jun 14, 2012

CHRISTINA DESMARAIS

Christina DesMarais is an Inc.com contributor who writes about the tech start-up community, covering innovative ideas, news, and trends. On Google+, add her to one of your circles. Have a tip? Email her at christinadesmarais (at) live (dot) com.




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