TechCrunch reports that the LinkedIn API that was announced earlier this year “will eventually be accessible to any and all developers sometime in the next year.” In my opinion, making an API available would be a wise business decision for LinkedIn.

I’ve “discovered” LinkedIn only recently, and if you visit the LinkedIn profile for Marcel Feenstra, you’ll notice that, so far, I’ve mainly used it to get back in touch with some of my old classmates from Fletcher and Tuck.

That has certainly been a pleasant experience for me, yet I can’t help but think that LinkedIn, in its present form, hasn’t reached its full potential. There is relatively little “action” going on compared to a competitor like Facebook, and while LinkedIn could certainly create some of the “missing functionality” itself, I think it is a wise idea to empower its user community by means of an API.

One reason would obviously be that LinkedIn’s corporate development team could probably only work on a few dozen applications at a time, whereas thousands of community members could build apps simultaneously.

But more importantly, community members will likely feel a greater sense of ownership for applications that have been created by the community itself –if only because its members know best which “features” are most useful and most needed.

Many of the Facebook applications are “nice to have”: games, jokes, etc.

LinkedIn, on the other hand, would benefit most from “need to have” applications that concentrate on the business requirements of its users. The company should give developers an incentive to create such apps by having them share in the resulting revenues.

So let’s put on our thinking caps: what kinds of applications would make LinkedIn a more useful place for the members of its community?