Apps that recommend people nearby who are similar to you, like Highlight and the now Facebook-acqui-hired Glancee, were the talk of SXSW this year yet they’ve failed to take off in the mainstream. CanWeNetwork is a new app that refines the idea, turning it into a potentially very useful professional networking tool.

Unlike similar apps which tend to rely on Twitter and Facebook data, CanWeNetwork is based on your LinkedIn profile, aiming it squarely at people wanting to meet useful professional contacts at conferences and conventions.

Simply connect your LinkedIn account, and the app will bring up a bunch of relevant people that it’s possible to connect with. Physical proximity isn’t the prime driver for these recommendations, although it is a factor. Other considerations include skills, education, past work experience, and the ways that you describe yourself compared to other connections.

Everyone 568h 220x390 CanWeNetwork is Highlight for professionals, finding people youll want to connect with on LinkedIn CanWe Main Screen 568h 220x390 CanWeNetwork is Highlight for professionals, finding people youll want to connect with on LinkedIn

This makes it a potentially useful tool even if you’re not in a room full of similar people already – some of my recommendations when I tested the app were from hundreds of miles away but were definitely people I may want to connect with, working in similar fields to me, such as media and technology. A percentage match score is shown against each person CanWeNetwork suggests, and the app will even help you send a LinkedIn connection request in a suitable way.

Profile 568h 220x390 CanWeNetwork is Highlight for professionals, finding people youll want to connect with on LinkedIn Login 568h 220x390 CanWeNetwork is Highlight for professionals, finding people youll want to connect with on LinkedIn

The app is the product of Austin, Texas-based CanWe Studios, a company dedicated to mapping connections between people, and CanWeNetwork is the first public release of its technology.

CanWe Studios’ James Sinclair tells us that in the future it will allow you to share future events that you’re planning to attend, to help you connect with other attendees in advance – similar to services like recently-relaunched Plancast, but with the obvious benefit of complex people recommendation technology operating behind the scenes. Beyond that, the company has a B2B-targeted business intelligence dashboard in the works, which promises to offer deep analysis of the relationships between people.

CanWeNetwork is available now for iOS and Android as a free download.

➤ CanWeNetworkiOS / Android

Image credit: John Moore / Getty Images