LinkedIn became the second of Silicon Valley’s biggest social networks to make a compelling distribution move this week. It’s landed in your inbox — quite literally if you have Microsoft Outlook.
They’ve partnered with Microsoft to launch the Outlook Social Connector, which will deliver LinkedIn updates directly to your inbox and give you better social context when you reach out to business contacts. When you write an e-mail, you’ll be able to tell what the other person has been working on or thinking about. (That could get especially interesting if LinkedIn’s recent partnership with Twitter delivers a healthy stream of data too).
It will also mail LinkedIn contacts if you type in their name, so you don’t have to remember their e-mail address. Lastly, LinkedIn has built in a button next to e-mails that makes it easy to add new contacts as friends.
LinkedIn is following a tried-and-true strategy for social networks — it’s making another service more useful by adding a social layer and it’s going where its customers are. Facebook took the same approach this week when it made it onto the Xbox and PlayStation 3, emphasizing its newfound forte in social gaming. Both LinkedIn and Facebook started as destination sites, but it’s become clear that there are big opportunities for exposure and data collection elsewhere if you can make social data more portable.