LinkedIn is getting into the event business. The professional networking site announced today that it’s starting to test a new events tool with a select group of users in San Francisco and New York City. LinkedIn plans to roll out the feature globally in the next few months.
The feature will look very similar to how events are displayed on Facebook — so you can see who else is attending, invite other people, and chat with other users in the event page feed.
LinkedIn product manager Ashu Dubey said in an email to VentureBeat that during the testing period, the organizers will only be able to create public events — eventually, however, they will be able to create events just for members of their group. There also won’t be a tab or feed that users can look at to discover events during the pilot, though Dubey says they’re also working on that.
Given that LinkedIn, which now has about 580 million users, likes to tout the strength of activity it sees in groups like alumni organizations, it’s surprising that the site didn’t try its hand at an events feature earlier. On the other hand, LinkedIn isn’t usually seen as a place to connect with people in real life, so it will be interesting which users and groups prove most receptive to organizing events on LinkedIn.
It’s also worth nothing that LinkedIn’s events foray comes as Facebook is trying to leverage its historical strengths in events and groups to add more professional networking features — earlier this year, Facebook announced that it was bringing a mentorship feature to select groups.
LinkedIn also announced today that it is opening up its online education platform, LinkedIn Learning, to third parties. LinkedIn Learning currently has 13,000 courses on its platform.