LinkedIn word cloud

A Review of Recent Changes on LinkedIn

It’s September! (How did that happen so soon?)

While you were enjoying your summer activities (and maybe doing a bit of work, too), LinkedIn made a few significant changes. As you come back to your favorite business networking site, here’s what you should expect.

Limited messages from Groups

Up until recently, if you joined a group you had unlimited opportunities to send group members a message.

In fact, many LinkedIn coaches suggested this was the best way to get in touch with people you don’t know.

Well, it’s still a great way to get in touch with somebody you’re not connected with on LinkedIn, but you are now limited to sending 15 of these messages per month. After that, you need to upgrade or just buy InMails (or find your contact’s email address and do it off LinkedIn).

Note that this is a total of 15 messages for all groups. It doesn’t matter if you belong to one group or 50, it’s still 15 messages tops. One every other day of the month if you pace yourself. If you send messages from a group area to your 1st degree connections, that counts, too. (Better to do this outside the group.) Even the Group Owners are restricted in sending personal messages to their own group members.

The limit resets at the beginning of the month. Only the original message counts, follow-up messages back and forth don’t.

How do you get to send more messages? You have to upgrade to a premium account or a Recruiter product. Yes, it’s expensive.

If you’ve been relying on groups to send lots of messages to people you are not connected with, you need to rethink your strategy: Build your network. Connect to one or two group leaders and you’ll find many of the other members of the group are now your 2nd degree connections; you can send them invitations. Make them personalized invitations to improve your success ratio (and avoid getting marked as a spammer).

“Commercial” Limits on Search for Basic Members

If have a free account and you use LinkedIn search (or certain off-line tools for searching LinkedIn) you are limited in the number of searches you can do before LinkedIn determines you’ve reached the “commercial search limit,” and throttles your LinkedIn search results from a stream to a dribble, until the beginning of the next month.

“OK,” you may say. “What’s the limit?” Well, LinkedIn ain’t sayin’. There’s some invisible combination of the number of searches, the results you get and some other mysterious ingredients. You will, at least, get a warning in the form of a progress bar when you’re down to 30% of your monthly allotment and as it decreases. Searches for first degree connections do not count towards your limit, but LinkedIn doesn’t explain clearly whether other searches for individuals do. (They might not.)

What do I do when I reach my limit?

What LinkedIn wants you to do is to upgrade your account to a Business Plus, Recruiter, or Sales Navigator account. (Sorry, a Job Seeker upgrade doesn’t count – which sucks if you’re unemployed and looking for a job. Fortunately, searches in the Jobs area aren’t included.)

Are there other strategies?

  • Generally, be more specific in your searches (filter by region, title, company or other factors) to limit your search results.
  • When you reach your limit, you can just wait until the beginning of the month.
  • Use the Alumni Search tool when you can.
  • Use Google search to search LinkedIn public profiles (with no search limits). Add the phrase: site:www.linkedin.com to limit the Google (or Bing) search to LinkedIn. Do these searches from a tab set to Incognito in Chrome (InPrivate in Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer; Private Window in Firefox; or Private in Safari) to avoid it counting towards your limits.
Vacation's Over! Time to ring out your social media message.

Vacation’s Over! Time to ring out your social media message.

LinkedIn Chat has Started Rolling Out

On September 1, LinkedIn announced they are gradually rolling out a new Chat function for first level connections. See the LinkedIn Blog announcement. It will roll out first to English speakers and will work on desktops, phones and tablet apps.(FYI, LinkedIn Chat is not connected with the older Twitter discussion group, LinkedInChat or LinkedInChat.com.)

You will be able to add photos, documents, stickers, emojis and GIFs to your messages. (The blog post appears to have loaded their screen shots in the wrong order, but the sample images are there.) This is something we’ll have to follow up on as it rolls out.

A New Way to Learn about Your Work Mates – LinkedIn Lookup

The Problem (according to LinkedIn): Too many people in larger corporations have trouble finding co-workers (who they are, what their skills are, what there email address is) and company intranets, apparently, don’t work. Well, there’s a new app for that: LinkedIn Lookup.

The app, apparently, only searches users in your own company. The only real advantage that I can see is that it makes it easier to communicate with other company members even if you’re not connected on LinkedIn. Most of what this app does you should be able to do in regular LinkedIn search (but see those commercial search restrictions, above) or even a Google search. It’s only available on iOS and desktop and “mobile web” (I think that’s a browser on a phone or tablet). Android users need to wait for their own app.

Does the company have to pay to offer this to their employees? LinkedIn isn’t saying, publicly.

The Takeaway: It’s a limited use app that might be a solution in search of a problem. We’ll have to see if businesses embrace it. If you don’t belong to a large company, you freelance, or if you’re unemployed, it’s best not to worry about this. (If you freelance for a company that uses this, though, ask if you can use the app.)

LinkedIn Publisher Changes

Global LinkedIn Publishing

The ability of LinkedIn members to publish their own “long-form” posts is expanding from English to other languages. This is rolling out gradually, first for Portuguese speakers, then German and French, and we’ll see from there.

New Milestones in Publishing

LinkedIn Publishing, this summer, hit a milestone of 1 million publishers. This is good news for LinkedIn.

It appears LinkedIn is looking at syndicating some of the posts to other media, with the author’s permission. But there would be no pay.

Some Publishers Are Unhappy, Though

Over the course of the summer, some LinkedIn Publishers have reported that LinkedIn appears to be reducing the exposure they get. Some claim that even people who subscribe to get that writer’s posts don’t always receive announcements about them. Many writers who used to get thousands or hundreds of readers, are now getting double digits and at least a few writers are considering just using their own blogs instead.

The facts here are changing and we’ll have to see if it becomes a larger unhappiness with LinkedIn or if it’s just a relatively small segment of LinkedIn users / writers that are affected.

Get’cher Social Selling Index – Right Here!

LinkedIn this summer, also announced its Social Selling Index formula or SSI. What it comes down to is what LinkedIn thinks the quality of your social activity is, boiled down to a single score.

Click on the above link and you can get your SSI score! What can you do with your score? As far as I can tell, absolutely nothing except see how you rate against an average score. It’s mostly a marketing gimmick, in my opinion.

Larger companies (over 100 employees and at least 10 sales reps) can get a corporate SSI figure, too. Again, it’s probably a marketing ploy to sell the company other services (the sales rep minimum is a giveaway).

LinkedIn Users Doing a Silent Job Search, Beware!

LinkedIn is now an essential part of a job search for millions of users, who are told that the best time to build a network for your next job is while you’re still employed. If you are planning to do a “Silent” or “Stealth” job search, though, you need to be aware that some HR-related companies are selling services to companies to monitor their employees’ social media accounts – including LinkedIn – to see if they are looking for a new job. (To be clear, this is not something LinkedIn is doing or advocating.) See our Frugal Guidance 2 post, Big Data Is Wrecking Your Silent Job Search, for lots more info and how to possibly avoid getting tagged.

LinkedIn Is Getting Rid of Message Archives

Many people, after they finish a conversation with another LinkedIn member, will archive their messages. And why not? You may want to be able to search for those messages in the future, right?

Another unannounced LinkedIn change destroys that strategy. According to LinkedIn help:

“The ability to Archive a Message will no longer be available. Any messages that were previously archived will appear in your message list.”

The messages will be put back in your message queue. If that clogs up your message area, you’ll probably have to download them. One hopes that we can download the messages all at once if we request our data download from LinkedIn. But I don’t think that was the case in the past.

Hunting for Your Invitation Requests

You can still view your invitations from the LinkedIn message area, but you can’t get there directly from the main menu. Instead, when you click on the Add Connections icon and click on Invitations, you get sent to the People You May Know page, which is a bit counterintuitive. You can click on the Quotation Mark icon to read a personalized message (if there is one), click on the Circle in an Oval icon to see mutual connections, and right-click on the person’s name to view his or her profile.

So you can do most of the same things, just in a different environment. LinkedIn might be phasing out viewing invitations from the messages area, but they’re not saying.

LinkedIn is Actively Marketing Lynda.com

If you remember back before the summer, LinkedIn bought the popular online training site Lynda.com. You can now get to Lynda.com from LinkedIn by going to your Interests menu and selecting Online Learning. (Which is different from education. Huh? Why they couldn’t just call it something like Lynda.com is an unanswered question.)

LinkedIn users get a longer free trial on Lynda.com than the general public, which is nice. Afterwards you need to pay to view the training videos and such. Lynda.com is also developing new training for using LinkedIn for businesses, so check out the training and see if it’s useful for you or your company.

SlideShare

SlideShare is now LinkedIn SlideShare (or, as the SlideShare site has it: in™ SlideShare). You can get to the SlideShare site directly from the Interests menu (just like Lynda.com, but the menu actually says “SlideShare”). It seems that LinkedIn, after sitting on its hands for a while, is now trying to develop SlideShare further and market it more.

What Does It All Come Down To?

If you look over most of these changes, they essentially boil down to:

  1. Rather than adding carrots (new, innovative and useful features) to paid accounts to encourage regular users to upgrade, many of LinkedIn’s changes are sticks (restrictions) on unpaid accounts to increase income for essentially the same services.
  2. LinkedIn is also promoting Lynda.com and SlideShare, which are also income producers. This means they’re supporting and promoting those projects, which is good news even for people who don’t use LinkedIn.
  3. Hopefully the new Chat will land in the “Useful” category for all, though.

More Reading

If you want a blow by blow description of all (or at least most) of the changes LinkedIn’s made this year, see Gary Sharpe’s very useful list of LinkedIn “Implementations and Introductions” on LinkedIn Publisher.

Andrew Foote (of the LinkedInSights.com blog) has an excellent article describing the effect of these changes on his post LinkedIn Introduces 2 NEW ‘Soft Paywalls’, SSI (Social Selling Index) & LinkedIn Lookup App.

If you want to set a fall resolution to be more effective on LinkedIn, Donna Svei shows how just five minutes a day can make you a better networker, on 25 Tips to Be a LinkedIn Speed User, on LinkedIn Pulse.

Credits:

The LinkedIn word cloud (based on this article) was created in Tagul.com and exported, with further artistic work in Photoshop and Topaz Impression by the author.

Bull / man ringing bell was from an image search of Project Gutenberg (see how in our previous article). Illustration is from the book Death and Burial of Poor Cock Robin, from original designs by H. L. Stephens. New York: Hurd & Houghton. 1865. Image adjusted in Photoshop for web display.

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