The LinkedIn development team have been busy. The last few months have seen many changes, big and small, to the world’s #1 business networking platform and the New Year will bring more. In this post I am going to highlight some of the ones I feel are most important for you to know about. You should be aware that because of the way that LinkedIn phases in updates gradually across its customer base it is likely that you will have some but not all of the changes mentioned below.
Why you may ask is it so important to keep up to date with changes to LinkedIn? Isn’t it at the end of the day just another business application like Word or Excel? Well no actually. LinkedIn is also the place where buyer and seller meet and build relationships. Studies consistently show that that the most successful sales people spend more time on LinkedIn than their less successful colleagues. Part of this time is spent making sure they keep abreast of changes because being fluent on LinkedIn gives you a competitive edge.
And so to the changes. Here in my opinion are some of the most important recent and planned changes you need to know about.
1. Revised pricing
LinkedIn recently revamped its pricing model, dumping the lower priced “Spotlight” and “Business” accounts and making “Business Plus” the entry level paid account. This represents a significant hike in pricing. Larger businesses and those selling high value products or services will still regard the paid account as good value however many small businesses are likely to balk at paying $49.95 per month.
If you are not sure if it is worth paying for a premium account LinkedIn has made it easy to upgrade, downgrade, or cancel anytime from your settings page. Here is acomparison of the different accounts. You can also try out any premium account for free for 30 days.
Here is an excellent article by Andy Brandt that reviews the recent price changes.
2. Profile Page – “View Page As” option
With the new profile page design you can “view page as” it will be seen by (a) your connections (b) by the public i.e.anyone. The latter is a stripped down version of your page which does not show blog posts, contact information, endorsements or recommendations, media files.
This is a useful reminder of the importance of reaching out to connect with your target audience so they have access to your profile page in its full glory!
Button allows you to see your profile as your connections or the public do
3. Permaedit Mode
Although the “edit profile” command remains at the moment in the drop down menu this is now redundant as scrolling over any section on the profile page will automatically turn on edit mode for that section – see below:
Scrolling over the profile page now instantly switches edit mode on
4. New look Homepage
LinkedIn have redesigned and simplified the homepage to become a personal dashboard.This is an update I don’t have at the time of writing. This is LinkedIn’s description of the main changes.
“At the very top of the homepage, your new dashboard gives you instant feedback on how you’re doing. See how many people have viewed you and understand how your status updates are performing. Click on either one to get deeper insights into what’s resonating with the connections you care about. Learn who found you – from that CEO to a long-lost friend – and how they found you, plus how you rank across your connections, within your company, and other LinkedIn members like you. Make quick edits to your profile – which help us surface better opportunities, news, and connection ideas for you – with a single click”.
There is also a new “Keep in touch box” at the top right of the page where you can share a comment, say congrats, or like an update.
Click here to read LinkedIn’s announcement about the redesigned homepage.
5. Redesigned recommendation feature
The recommendation feature is one of the longest established and most important LinkedIn features but until very recently had received little attention from the design team. I am glad to say the feature has now been completely updated, for example the rather bizarre option to send out up to 200 recommendations requests at once has been replaced by the option to send a maximum of three requests at one time.
6. Removal of group connection request
A couple of months ago LinkedIn quietly removed the ability to send connection invitations to people in a shared group. This was a very popular and useful feature. and many people are unhappy that this has disappeared. Being in the same group implies shared interests and would therefore seem a reasonable basis for connecting. If LinkedIn were concerned this feature was being abused it would have been simpler in my opinion to add an opt out in the settings menu.
7. New connection options
A change is coming to the standard connection request process from a member’s page. Currently clicking on the connect button on someone’s profile will bring up the dialogue box shown above. In future clicking on this button will automatically send a standard non-personalised connect request. In order to send a personalised request (recommended) it will be necessary to click on the drop down menu and select the customised request option.
I do not have this update yet.
8. How people found you
When you check who has viewed your profile LinkedIn now helpfully tells you how that person came to your profile e.g. from a group, the mobile app, the who viewed your profile page. Whilst this is not necessarily the most important recent change it does give useful feedback on which aspects of your LinkedIn activity are being effective in getting you noticed.
9. New Inmail policy
From January 2015 Inmails will work differently. Instead of receiving credits for Inmails that are not read the system will be turned on its head so in future you receive a credit for every response received (Reply or Not Interested) from a recipient within 90 days. If you don’t get a response within 90 days, however, the InMail credit will be lost.
The monthly Inmail allowance will also increase depending on your membership. For example the entry level Business Plus account will now receive 15 instead of 10 per month. Unused Inmails will continue to be valid for 90 days, after which they are deleted.
It is possible to purchase up to 10 additional Inmails.
Read the LinkedIn policy in full.
10. New LinkedIn search engine
Over the last 18 months LinkedIn has been developing and rolling out a new search engine code named “Galene”. This has largely replaced the original “Lucene” search engine which was no longer able to cope with the volume and rate of change of LinkedIn’s data.
The key benefits provided by the new search engine are:
- Instant member search of whole LinkedIn database
- Improved relevance as a result of a more sophisticated algorithm
This is a work in progress and some of the results that a LinkedIn search currently produces can be a bit puzzling with no obvious logic. However it does seem that some of the factors that will influence your ranking on a given search are location, social proximity (how closely connected you are to an individual), and keywords.
There are many more impenetrable criteria hidden in the bowels of the algorithm which we can only guess at, but as with Google search the best advice for users is to make sure you are posting good quality content that is relevant to your audience and you have written and optimised your profile with the customer in mind.
Stop press: LinkedIn have just announced that free account users will now be able to view full names and profiles for anyone in their extended network, this was previously only available to paid subscribers. At the same time LinkedIn are introducing a new restriction on the number of searches that free account users can make each month – this is know as the rather vaguely defined “commercial limit”.A progress bar will appear in your search results when 30% of your searches are left, and will continue to remind you in 5% increments. After you’ve reached the limit, you’ll continue to be able to search, but will see a limited number of results. Your free monthly usage will reset on the 1st of each calendar month.
You can read more here.
I’d love to hear what you think of these changes and any other changes which you feel will have a significant impact on the way you use LinkedIn.
If you have enjoyed this article please share it so other people can too.
Greg Cooper is a Marketing Coach and LinkedIn specialist and Google+ trainer based in Bristol, UK. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Direct Marketing. For over twenty years Greg ran an award winning direct marketing agency working with leading technology companies like IBM, SAP, and Siemens. Today he works with SMEs and Business Units of larger companies. He is an accredited coach on the Government sponsored Growth Accelerator Programme.
For more information about Greg’s Coaching and Training Services or to join the mailing list please click here.