LinkedIn Drills Down Into People Search With New Beta

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There is an IBM commercial that pokes fun of people who spend time on social networks in the workplace (see below). It shows a young, hip guy who brags about having “826 friends” and explains to an older boss-lady type that he “can find anyone.” So she says she needs a team of international finance experts who know merger arbitrage, speak Cantonese and can start on Monday. “I don’t have any friends like that,” admits the underling.

Well, if he was on LinkedIn, he might be able to impress his boss. The online business network earlier today quietly introduced a People Search beta. Once you opt in, a guided navigation panel appears on the right every time you search showing the breakdown of results across 11 different facets, including current company, relationship to you, location, industry, and whether or not they are looking for a job. By checking the appropriate boxes, you can narrow your search quickly and find who you are looking for.

A search for “mergers,” for example, brings up 108,345 results. But when I select people at least two connections away from me, who live in the Bay area, and are “potential employees” that narrows it down to 24 results. Since LinkedIn contains a lot of highly-structured data, it knows that “CEO” is a title and that “Cisco” is a company, so it can generate people results accordingly. Results in the guided navigation column are ranked and generated dynamically, according to how many results there are for any given field (a number in parentheses tells you how many results there are for each refinement). So it tells you where to look essentially

LinkedIn started improving search last Thanksgiving, and since then has seen searches double to more than 100 million queries a month. About a third of all visitors do a search, and it is increasingly becoming an important way to navigate the site. Better search means better engagement with the site, something LinkedIn could use. According to comScore, U.S. unique visitors declined from 8 million last March to 7.1 million in June. Maybe this will help.

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