Social networking has long been an Internet category in search of a revenue model. Sites such as Friendster that link people through personal profiles have hesitated to charge for admission lest they alienate the crowds that give the networks of linked acquaintances value.
But LinkedIn, a site geared to professionals that claims more than 2 million members, on Tuesday is expected to unveil its first paid product, the LinkedIn Jobs network, along with the LinkedIn JobsInsider browser add-on.
"If you're looking for a job and you could be a genie, you'd want to know which of your contacts knows someone who's hiring," said Konstantin Guericke, vice president of marketing for LinkedIn. "When you search LinkedIn, you'll be able to get that information."
Web sites that charge employers for job listings aren't breaking new ground. Craigslist, which eschews both advertising and other fees, relies substantially on such charges.
But in the larger area of social networking, charging for services has been a virtual third rail.
Friendster on Monday said that it was doing well on ad revenue alone and that it had no plans to charge users for anything. Tribe.net said that it might charge for certain kinds of postings but that it had no immediate plans to do so.
Ryze, LinkedIn's chief competitor in the professionally oriented social networking category, does charge for some levels of access. And Flickr, a photo site with strong social networking attributes, charges for extra storage.
LinkedIn's Guericke said his company had plans to offer additional premium services, possibly for the professional services marketplace it recently launched.
The company said it hopes to be profitable early next year after launching.
LinkedIn Jobs will let job seekers scan job openings, get information on the company and locate professional contacts--or contacts of contacts--who know the job poster. The JobsInsider browser add-on is a separate pane showing contacts that people have to a company listing an open position.
LinkedIn said it had 300,000 job listings and expected to top 1 million by summer. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company scored a $10 million Series B funding round led by Greylock Partners in October, and a $4.7 million round led by Sequoia Capital in November 2003.