The LinkedIn Events feature has been around for a while, but for some of us (including me, actually), it’s somehow managed to slip under the mainstream radar. When it comes to professional event management and planning, I tend to stick with online services like Plancast for deciding which popular conferences or gatherings I’d like to attend.

With the new changes being added to LinkedIn Events today, however, I might just have to make a switch. After taking some serious feedback from some of its most active members, LinkedIn has managed to iterate on top of LinkedIn Events to bring its consumers more of what they would actually use the feature for.

Straight from the social networking site for professionals comes this announcement:

“LinkedIn Events has had a serious overhaul. For starters, we’ve made it easier than ever to find the right events to attend. And, more importantly, we’re adding a healthy dose of LinkedIn’s secret sauce – an easy way to find and connect with the right folks attending those events.”

The new updates promise to help LinkedIn users find events faster in order to meet relevant professionals more easily, host events with ease while managing attendees, and receive personalized recommendations on which events to attend as well as which attendees the user might be interested in meeting. For full details, read on.

Personalized Event Recommendations

The whole process of event planning, management and attendance through LinkedIn has been redesigned with user convenience in mind. Your Events Home, for example, now provides an “ever-evolving set of event recommendations based on your location, industry, network, and more.”

Pic 1 events eymbii LinkedIn Events are now bigger, better, and more user friendly.

Along with being able to search for specific events with better-filtered controls (ie. industry, location and time), events will also begin appearing on your Network Update feed — though I’m not sure why this wasn’t implemented before, and might explain why events via LinkedIn may have managed to elude me and a few others in the past.

Meet the right people at events

For me, being active on LinkedIn has made it easier to make mutually beneficial connections with potential industry contacts. By that, I mean that as a media person, I’m often reached out to by PR reps or marketing managers either looking for distribution on their stories, or clarification on various social media strategies. Off of LinkedIn and while attending events, however, I’m not so sure who’s who — I can’t be expected to keep track of everyone, right?

A new feature on LinkedIn Events has made this process much easier. Now, after signing up to attend a particular event through the service, I’m presented with a list of attendees that I might want to meet. These attendees can be filtered by industry as well as company to make the sorting process easier.

Pic 2 events aymwtm LinkedIn Events are now bigger, better, and more user friendly.Share events and get directions easier

By simply adding an event to your calendar, you can easily grab directions to the event’s location directly from the LinkedIn website and via Google Maps. You’ll also be able to share your plans with your connected network through other social channels like Twitter, Facebook, or even directly to your personal activity stream. There’s no word on whether Google+ will be incorporated into the service yet, but I assume this will come when Google+ provides better API support.

Pic 3 Screen shot 2011 11 07 at 9.35.56 PM LinkedIn Events are now bigger, better, and more user friendly.Pic 4 Screen shot 2011 11 07 at 9.37.24 PM LinkedIn Events are now bigger, better, and more user friendly.

While I’m definitely excited to see more activity in LinkedIn Events, I’ve already been using my own personal favorite event management app on my smartphone. Bizzabo, for example, uses LinkedIn’s professional network to provide much of the same features and toolsets available above, but also includes the ability to “make offers” to other event attendees. In this way, you can stand out a bit more by setting up a limited-time deal or meeting-signup list of some kind to promote your presence at the event.

Regardless of whether I’m using Bizzabo, Plancast or LinkedIn Events, I doubt I’ll settle on just one tool — just like I won’t be using only Twitter, or only Facebook and Google+. Why use just one when I can use them all and cast my professional net even wider, right?

You tell me: What are some of your favorite professional event management tools? Have you been using LinkedIn Events, and if not, will you be using it more now that its features have received a major overhaul? Sound off in the comments below.