Most people think about apps running on their smartphones, but we're seeing more and more web services launching app "stores" that allow you to beef up your account. LinkedIn's list of apps is relatively small compared to other popular marketplaces, but what the site lacks in quantity it makes up in quality. The majority of LinkedIn apps are undiscovered gems, assuming you frequent the social network on a regular basis. Aside from custom apps, many developers are also starting to use LinkedIn's API to launch digital downloads to do everything from scan business cards to meet strangers for lunch.
Here are five LinkedIn apps to get a leg up in the never-ending networking race.
Cardmunch (iPhone; free)
Ah, business cards. As much as we fantasize about their demise, the reality is that these rectangular pieces of paper are still the norm in the business world. While there are lots of apps available to scan business cards, CardMunch syncs the uploaded information with your LinkedIn contacts. Simply snap a photo of the card and within a few minutes the information is transcribed, stored, and cross-referenced (so the individual's LinkedIn details are available). Also, after you scan a contact, there is a list of mutual contacts included within that person's profile information. This free iPhone download is a must for users who depend on LinkedIn for their networking needs.(Thanks to @retailprophet for the suggestion.)
Tripit (LinkedIn; free)
Tripit has been helping business travelers keep their flight, hotel, and rental car confirmation emails in a central spot for years now. The LinkedIn Tripit app is similar, insofar as giving you the tools to plan and share travel with your contacts. The best part about this app is that once you plan a trip you can find out immediately which LinkedIn contacts are going to be in the city you're visiting. This is especially helpful if you're planning a business trip and you want to plan as many networking meetings as possible to make the most of your time. Have a competitive edge? The app compiles your travel stats and ranks your miles against your contacts, a social gaming component that puts a little fun into your time up in the air. (Thanks to @JPBRehr for the suggestion.)
Reading List by Amazon (LinkedIn; free)
There is no better way to decide what to read than asking your peers. While it isn't always possible to get an inside look at what's on their bookstand, this app will get you one step closer. The concept is pretty simple. Once you add the Readling List app to your profile, you can post what books you're reading now (or plan to read or have already read). When you find someone with similar interests, follow their list to stay on top of their book picks. Not only is this great for people looking for reading recommendations, it's also a great way to open conversations and network with your LinkedIn community. (Thanks to @NickGilham for the suggestion.)
LunchMeet (iPhone; free)
This app is particularly useful to hardcore (and adventurous!) LinkedIn users. Let's say all your office colleagues are busy during the lunch hour, or maybe you just want to make some new connections. LunchMeet lets you broadcast your mealtime availability and wait for someone within LinkedIn (who's in the same city) to agree to meet up. The app encourages people to "never eat alone" and leverages the power of your digital network to do some face-to-face networking. While LunchMeet won't appeal to everyone, it's a handy way to meet some of your online contacts in a public place for some creative conversation.
WordPress (LinkedIn; free)
Cross-posting is a dirty word in the social media world. Many diehard digital enthusiasts despise when people sync up posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites. However, this particular application isn't so much about sharing updates. Instead, if you're a WordPress user, it's the perfect way to coordinate your blog posts so they get exposure within your LinkedIn Community. It's easy to set up; simply put in your site address and you're done. When you're saving your post within WordPress, you can also tag relevant posts with "LinkedIn" so the app only pulls those updates--an excellent way to ensure your content is relevant to the LinkedIn community. (Thanks to @SeanMalarkey for the suggestion.)
[Image: Flickr user StuckInCustoms]